A dog is standing in a vest.

Are Emotional Support Dog Vests Required for ESAs?

3 min read

You might have seen both service animals and emotional support dogs wearing vests to emphasize their status and let other people know that it’s a special type of pet for you. However, even though it’s preferable for a service dog to wear a vest, there is no such need if you have the emotional support animal.

Even more than that, there are no legal requirements forcing you to do so. Instead, it could be a complete waste of money if you get a vest for your ESA.

Some people think that vests could be very helpful as they allow making your pet more recognizable in public places. However, it’s not entirely so. Rather than being an indicator of your dog’s status, it’s just a marketing trick that seemingly lets other people treat your ESA, not like an average pet. In reality, it just makes you pay an extra price for the unnecessary uniform for your dog.

Why service dogs need vests and why ESAs don’t

A service dog is standing next to a human.
There's a list of specific reasons for a dog to wear a vest.

There are many reasons why a service dog owner would want his/her animal to wear a vest. But there are also many reasons why it’s not required for emotional support animals. Here are just a few of them:

  • The vest can help you enter the public area with the service dog which is not the case with the ESA

Service animals wearing easily recognizable vests will let business owners know that you want to enter the public place with a special type of pet. Nevertheless, there are no legal rules allowing ESAs to access public places so buying the vest would just be a redundant commodity.

When you have a service dog, it’s important to make other people trust your animal in difficult situations. In cases of emergency, the service dogs that are not wearing vests might not let people understand that they are trying to help their owners. That’s why the vest can serve as a way to build trust in the surrounding people.

But when you have the ESA, you might not necessarily face any life-critical situations as the role of such animals is to offer only psychological help to their caretakers. Due to this reason, having the vest is not compulsory for this type of assistance animal.

A dog in a vest is lying on the floor.
A vest gives people a signal that this dog is here not for play.

Even though this might also be true, it’s not obligatory to show that your ESA performs the vitally important duties for you as its owner. Vests often let the public know that the animal needs not to be distracted from its primary responsibilities. However, that’s not the case with emotional support animals whose major role is just to give companionship to their handlers.

With that said, buying a vest for your ESA wouldn’t be a reasonable decision. And although experts often recommend using vests for ESAs, our answer is no. Vests are only good for service dogs, not emotional support animals, which is why it would be just a waste of your time and money if you go looking for a suitable vest for your ESA.

by GetESA

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ESA Laws and Regulations