An emotional support animal (ESA) is a person who has a disability and who needs the support of an animal to help them with their disability. These animals provide comfort, relief, and help those with disabilities live their lives as fully as possible.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a definition of an ESA that includes a dog or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disabilities. A licensed mental health professional (LMHP) can determine whether your disabilities make you eligible for owning an ESA.
In some cases, assistance animals are trained to assist in training for disabled individuals. Service animals, for example, are trained to be able to do tasks that assist a person with a disability in daily life. They can help a blind person go about their day, alert someone when their owner experiences seizures, remind their owner about their daily medications, and more.
An emotional support animal, however, is not professionally trained. Instead, they simply provide the comfort of a familiar presence. Many ESA owners have seen improvements in their quality of life since bringing their animals into their homes. The pets also provide a sense of companionship and support for those with mental illnesses, such as easing an owner’s panic attacks.
However, you can’t simply claim your pet is an emotional support animal. In fact, you’d need to complete a certification process.
Understanding Emotional Support Animal Certification in North Carolina
North Carolina needs a pet owner to go through a certification process to have an emotional support animal in the state. The process requires the owner to provide documentation that proves the owner is eligible to require an ESA.
Before a person can obtain an ESA letter of proof, they must go through a screening process with an LMHP. Make sure to look for one who is from the same state as you. This will ensure that the provider is familiar with the laws in your state, not to mention most states would consider an ESA letter ineligible if it was handed out-of-state.
The ESA letter of proof will also include information regarding the type of assistance your animal provides. You can then show the letter when you want to bring your animal to certain establishments, such as an airport. With this, your landlord would also need to provide accommodations (within reasonability) to help your ESA settle. You may even be able to bypass a no-pet policy!
However, some exceptions may be made. An airline, for one, will often also require other documents, such as a letter from your doctor or therapist, to support your ESA. You may need to confirm to the establishment that your pet is healthy and well, and that they have been properly vaccinated.
Above all, your pet cannot be disruptive. A landlord, for example, is allowed to ask for you and your pet to vacate their premises if your emotional support animal is a danger to the other tenants.
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.
Review symptoms, medications & behavior to keep your pets healthy with a Vet Online in just minutes.Ask a Vet Live Now