If you have recently received the letter and prescriptions for an emotional support animal, before you pick out your critter, it’s good to know exactly what you can and cannot do with your animal beforehand. You might be wondering, “can I take them to the cinema?” or “do I have to tell my landlord I have an emotional support animal?”
In this article, we aim to give an overview of your ESA’s rights and where they can and can’t accompany you. If you want to get a good start on your research, read on.
Do I have to tell my landlord, and can they deny my ESA?
This is a big one. The short answer is you have to inform them, but there are rules about denying them.
Since emotional support animals are technically working animals, you would expect them to be able to live with you no matter what. However, it is not that simple.
The first thing you need to do is check your contract and agreements you made with your landlord. This will give you a good indication as to what you can and cannot do. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), your ESA is recognized as aiding their owner with their disability and should be allowed to live with you even in a building that doesn’t allow pets. Your landlord is expected to make reasonable accommodations for you and your emotional support animal.
Yet, much like everything in life, there are exceptions to the rule. If…
- Your residence is outside of the FHA — some houses fall outside the Fair Housing Act, which means your ESA will not have their usual rights. Double-check your agreement.
- When accommodations become unreasonable, your animal cannot stay with you — this can be anything from the breed of dog that interferes with the landlord’s insurance as it is considered “dangerous” to your animal needing very specific housing, such as a miniature horse requiring a stable. Before you choose your animal, make sure your landlord will permit the species.
These are just two examples of where your emotional support animal may be denied. Make sure you have everything squared out with whoever owns your housing before you choose your animal.
Can my ESA travel with me?
This question is tricky to answer as the rules do change. If you are road tripping with your dog, you should be absolutely fine (the problem may come with accommodation which we will talk about later). Trains, too, shouldn’t be an issue. However, when you are going to take a flight, you need to be very careful and never assume that it is okay for your ESA to travel with you in the cabin.
The easiest answer is to check with the airline you intend to travel with. Unlike a service animal or guide dog, some airlines will not allow your ESA to travel with you. Make sure when you enquire with your airline that you have all of your ESA paperwork up to date, you have your Emotional Support Animal Letter and the medical history for your animal in case they are required to have specific vaccinations.
Is my ESA allowed into hotels or motels?
Unfortunately, a hotel is not required to allow your ESA to stay, as it is considered temporary accommodation. You may have to do a lot of research and make a couple of phone calls to determine where you and your animal can stay when you travel.
This is not a definitive list of the cans and cannots when it comes to ESAs, although these are some of the bigger issues you may encounter. It’s up to you to do the research and ensure you are well within your and your animal’s rights when you’re planning accommodation and travel.