An emotional support animal is a type of pet that is required by individuals with a mental or emotional disability. In the United States, it is an individual who has a physical or mental disability that is substantially limiting their ability to live independently and are prescribed an animal to help them do so. The federal government has laws in place that protect those who need these animals.
The Department of Justice defines “emotional support animal” as any dog, miniature horse, or other animals that can provide emotional support to a person with a disability. In addition, the animal must be specifically affirmed by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). This person must also have a letter from their doctor describing their disability and how the animal will help them function more independently. If the individual’s disability is not severe enough for them to require an ESA, their pet may not be recognized as such.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that disabled people must have civil rights protection so that they can receive the benefits that they are entitled to. This includes receiving equal treatment from the government. The ADA also states that disabled people have the right to live in their own homes while having assistance animals. In other words, they may be able to bypass no-pet policies, to a reasonable extent.
Another way the laws protect ESAs is by giving them access to otherwise restricted places. For example, an owner may be able to bring their ESA on board a plane with them. However, they must still follow the airlines’ guidelines and rules for animals. Owners who are students may wonder if the same protection is granted when it comes to bringing their pets along to school.
Can You Take Your ESA to the School?
Unfortunately, school grounds are not legally obligated to allow your emotional support animal to enter. In fact, it is the school’s right to restrict your ESA’s entry into the school. They may be able to do so under certain circumstances. For example, they may have a no-pet policy that states that you cannot bring any animal on campus. In this case, the ESA would not be able to enter without violating the policy.
However, schools may be required to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled students who need emotional support animals in order to participate in their education programs and activities. Still, you’d need to be aware of what to do to ensure that you and your pet get the protection you deserve.
What to Prepare
One thing to keep in mind is that your ESA is only recognized as one if you have an ESA letter stating so. This is why it is important to have your doctor’s signature on the letter. In addition, you will need to bring all of the paperwork from your doctor with you. This confirms to your campus or school that your pet is actually an emotional support animal, and that you’re not simply a regular pet owner trying to take advantage of ESA law.
JulieJulie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.
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