Unlike a service dog, which is trained specially to assist people with incapacities, an emotional support animal (ESA) does not have the relevant abilities. However, ESA gives a different function – the animal provides its owner psychological comfort and love, which has a beneficial therapeutic effect. ESAs do not need special training, but you need to go through a certain procedure to get the status of an emotional support animal.
The status of an emotional support animal confers two basic privileges. The first is the right of pet owners to rent housing without discrimination based on the presence of a pet. The second is the right to travel with your pet by air, without sending the pet to the baggage compartment. Below you will learn more about what legislative mechanisms are provided for comfortable interaction between people who require emotional assistance for a pet and others.
According to Federal law, owners of emotional support animals have unrestricted access to housing. By law, the landlord who manages the property must provide the animal owner with “reasonable accommodation”. The phrase “reasonable” implies that the owner of an animal can in no way be discriminated against or subjected to additional financial sanctions for the presence of an animal on the leased area. An exception may be cases where the presence of an animal objectively causes a number of financial or administrative difficulties. All these points are described in detail in the laws of the FHA and HUD.
Regardless of the breed and size of the animal, the landlord must provide housing. However, if your pet shows disruptive behavior, the landlord may ask you to leave the rented premises on full grounds. This also applies if your pet is a danger to the residents. This is why the emotional support animal needs to be well-trained.
As for your right to take your little friend with you on board of the plane, this right applies to all airlines without exception-both American and foreign ones, making flights to the United States. It is assumed that your animal will not disturb the rest of the other passengers and have adequate size. It goes without saying that you cannot transport an adult horse in the cabin, but no one will restrict if it is a dog, a cat, or a hamster.
At the same time, the owner of an animal with ESA status is obliged to notify the airline that your pet will be on board in advance. Some companies set up a special form specifying the wording they need. Of course, this does not exclude the possibility that you can just come to the airport with an emotional support animal doctor letter and will most likely be allowed on board. However, if you want to avoid unnecessary difficulties with airline representatives, it is recommended to give 48 hours’ notice that your pet will be traveling with you. Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that the presence of an ESA letter is a legitimate reason for landing.
The emotional support animal doctor note is issued by an accredited mental health expert. The law describes in detail how to do this. First of all, you need to contact a medical specialist who will determine your diagnosis and give an opinion on whether you really need an emotional support animal and whether this need is so acute that you need to grant the permission to fly with an animal in the cabin. The ESA doctor’s note must include the date and signature of the approved expert, as well as permission features and contact information. It is necessary to remember that the certificate is valid for a year and must be updated after this time. Otherwise, you may not be allowed to check-in or travel by plane with your pet.
To date, the concept of therapy using emotional support animals is quite innovative. Until now, not all mental health specialists use this practice. However, there are about 100,000 specialist licenses in the United States that can arrange an ESA note for you. Today, you can easily find a specialist in your city who will conduct a preliminary consultation with you and give you an ESA note. If you don’t know a specialist or cannot find him, it makes sense to use the offers on the Internet. But you should first check the validity of the doctor’s license, so as not to get caught by a fraudster whose letter will not have any legal force.
If your pet really helps you cope with emotional and mental disorders, then you should definitely apply for ESA status. Once you have the letter in your hands, you will get additional rights to move and live with the pet without hindrance, which will significantly improve the life of quality.
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