Emotional support animals (ESA) are pets that provide support for their owners with mental or emotional disorders. In order to be recognized as an ESA, the animal must provide the owner with therapeutic benefits. Such a pet would be a great benefit to those who suffer from various illnesses and disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and more.
Many states have enacted laws that give emotional support animals and their owners protections and guarantees that they will have equal rights. This is on top of federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which state that those with disabilities have the right to be protected to get their needs fulfilled, including by owning emotional support animals.
However, there are still many rules and regulations set in place by each state, and unfortunately, the importance of emotional support animals are not as widely recognized as other types of assistance animals, such as service dogs.
Are There Breed Restrictions for ESAs?
The rules and regulations regarding emotional support animals are more extensive than other types of assistance animals. For example, service dogs are generally allowed to enter most public places without restriction, while emotional support animals may not always be granted the same leniency.
However, there are no federal laws or regulations that prohibit an ESA from being a certain breed. This means that any ESA can be any breed, weight, or size. The only requirement is that the animal must be trained to behave in a way that does not cause harm or nuisance to others.
Homeowners with emotional support animals may wonder whether they are allowed to keep their ESA in their homes. The answer is that yes, emotional support animals are generally allowed to be kept in their housing accommodations. You may even be able to bypass a building’s no-pet policy.
Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants who have emotional support animals, but they may require that you obtain a special permit in the form of a valid ESA letter. Many landlords like to deny pit bulls, for example, due to the presumption that pit bulls are aggressive animals. However, they are not allowed to deny your emotional support pit bull access based simply on their weight, size, or breed alone. Of course, this is only as long as your demands are reasonable. For example, you wouldn’t be allowed to keep a horse in a penthouse!
Although airlines do not discriminate against any particular breed of animal, they do have certain restrictions in place regarding the size and weight of an ESA. Most airlines will not allow you to travel with an ESA that is more than 20 lbs in weight. Some airlines may also require that your ESA be small enough to fit under your seat or in a carry-on luggage bag.
You should not be late in notifying your airline of your ESA. If you are late, the airline may not allow you to board your flight with your ESA. You may also have to provide them with extra documentation on top of the ESA letter, such as proof that your pet is vaccinated.