Emotional Support Animals

Know Your Rights: FAQs About Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals

Emotional support and service animals offer support for their owners in different ways. However, as the owner of one of these animals, you may run into questions regarding your rights. Here is a look at some of the most common questions people with a service animal or an emotional support animal can have and the answers you should know.

 

What is the difference in training between an emotional support animal and a service animal?

 

Emotional support animals have to be trained to alleviate the symptoms of their owners. For example, an emotional support animal for someone with depression or generalized anxiety must be trained to engage in behavior(s) that alleviate that person's symptoms. Such behaviors can be anything from licking the person's hand, to cuddling, to laying a paw or head on the person's lap. 

A service animal likewise must be trained to perform tasks related to the person's disability. Whether that is leading around a visually-impaired person, or bringing someone his/her medicine, or snapping someone out of a PTSD episodic flashback. 

In neither case does the animal need to be registered with a company. The companies that provide service animal or emotional support animal certificates, vests, cards, etc. are SCAMS are not required by law. The only thing an emotional support animal or service animal needs to verify its status as such is a letter from a doctor. 

 

Can you legally take your service animal with you anywhere?

 

Service animals are required by law to be allowed to go with you anywhere. An emotional support animal CANNOT go with you out in public places.  

 

Can an emotional support animal be treated differently because of their breed?

 

It depends on the situation. Under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord cannot deny your emotional support animal to live with you because of its breed. However, if you live in a city with a breed restriction, the city may be able to prevent your emotional support animal from living with you because emotional support animals are not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law that preempts city ordinances. Service animals cannot be restricted because of breed regardless of city ordinances because they are protected by the ADA.