The bond between humans and animals started at least 15,000 years ago when animals like dogs and horses provided service to their owners. Over the years, the animal-human relationship has advanced to serve other purposes such as protection, performing daily activities, physical assistance, and emotional support.
Emotional support animals (ESAs) differ from service animals because they don’t have specialized training to carry out special tasks for their owner. Instead, they provide companionship, comfort, and emotional support to help the owner manage a mental or emotional disability.
Are emotional support animals allowed in stores? It depends. Some stores have animal-friendly policies and won’t mind you tagging along your emotional support puppy, alligator, or any other animal. Additionally, the store authority may allow you to bring your ESA if you explain to them politely why you need it.
However, ESAs have limited access to public spaces like stores compared to service dogs. In most cases, the legality of bringing your ESA to a store depends on the store’s policies and the owner. Do your due diligence to ascertain if the particular store permits ESAs before going there.
Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed on Planes?
In July 2019, an emotional support dog aboard a plane bit a flight attendant leading to a severe injury that required several stitches. Since then, the controversy surrounding allowing ESAs on planes has heightened, and airlines are skeptical about passengers bringing animals into the cabin.
The US Department of Transportation(DOT) clearly stated that ESAs are not service animals; hence, no airline should be obligated to allow owners to bring them on planes. However, you can still bring your ESA on board, but the airline decides whether to treat it like a regular pet or a service animal.
If the airline decides your ESA is allowed in the cabin, you’ll not pay any additional fees or have your ESA travel in the cargo area. However, if they treat it like the standard pet, rules pertaining to bringing pets on a plane, such as size, additional fees, and whether they stay in the cabin, may apply.
Are Emotional Support Dogs Allowed on Planes?
Following the DOT’s position on ESA’s on flights, it doesn’t matter if your emotional support companion is a dog, cat, alligator, pig, or any other creature. The rule remains that if a dog is not specially trained to assist you due to physical or mental disability and has the required certification, the airline is not compelled to allow it on a plane. For this reason, always contact the airline beforehand to confirm if you can bring your emotional support dog on the plane.
Do Emotional Support Animals Fly Free?
Yes and no. Most American airlines don’t allow emotional support animals to fly free. On the contrary, most sighed in relief when DOT announced the new guidelines on allowing only certified service dogs on flights for free. It was a relief because most passengers were abusing ESAs as service animals and bringing peacocks, monkeys, and miniature horses as emotional support companions on flights at no extra fee.
However, some airlines still allow emotional support dogs to fly for free. Others also permit caged ESAs to fly for free in the cabin. Double-check with your airline before booking a flight to ascertain if they charge extra fees for ESAs.
Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in Walmart?
Walmart does not allow emotional support animals and therapy pets into the stores. The international retailer only permits service animals on its premises as laid out in the ADA’s directive. Following this regulation, a service animal owner has a right to bring their animal to Walmart or any other public trading center for assistance.
For example, a blind person can bring a service dog trained to guide them. Additionally, a customer who uses a wheelchair can bring their service animal if it helps them push the wheelchair.
Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in Hotels?
Yes and No. The law does not obligate hotels to allow customers to bring emotional support animals to their premises. However, pet-friendly hotels will allow your ESA in your room and other public spaces in the hotel at a fee. If you intend to bring your animal companion to the hotel, call the customer representative to confirm their ESA policy and whether there are any requirements.
Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in Restaurants?
The short answer is no. Restaurants are hygienic places where people socialize and dine in an orderly manner. Not all emotional support animals have the training to keep calm in public places. For this reason, you can only take your ESA to a restaurant if it is pet-friendly. Most people wouldn’t mind having a pet in the room as they dine, provided it’s well-mannered and calm.
Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in School?
Yes, you can bring an ESA to a public school if it provides mental support. While the ADA specifically talks about allowing service animals in learning institutions, most schools have no problem with bringing an ESA to the premises. The school administration will permit you to bring your animal companion in the dorms, classes, and other school spaces if you have an ESA letter from your health care professional.
However, most schools still uphold the no-pet policy, so you must have a compelling and verifiable reason to tag along your emotional support or therapy animal.
Are Emotional Support Animals Protected?
Yes, the Fair Housing Act protects emotional support animals. This act states that “ a person with a disability may request to keep an ESA as a reasonable accommodation to a housingm manager’s pet restrictions. In this regard, you have a right to keep your ESA in your apartment or home without incurring additional pet fees and restrictions on type, size, or breed.
Are Emotional Support Animals Covered Under the ADA?
No, ADA does not cover emotional support animals. The Act has laid out clear requirements for an animal to be classified as a service animal and hence enjoy reasonable modifications in policies. These requirements include the animal being trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability and the tasks being directly related to the disability. Unfortunately, most ESAs aren’t trained and only provide comfort and companionship to the owner.
Do Emotional Support Animals Need To Be Registered?
Not really. You don’t need to register your emotional support animal with any state or federal body. However, registering your pet as an ESA with a licensed health professional will make it easy for you to compel stakeholders in social and public places that you need the animal with you for your well-being. These people include airline customer service, apartment managers, and restaurant owners.