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Are There Any Restrictions on Pet Type, Weight or Breed?

3 min read

Generally speaking, no. Any pet can become an emotional support animal, however, the question of size, species or breed is not as straightforward when it comes to housing or transportation. The department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) (two governmental bodies responsible for it) both have their own standards of what ESAs housing and transportation providers have to accommodate. It doesn't mean that your ten emotional support tigers (in case you own them, just like this veteran from Nevada) are not ESAs any more. Just don't expect them to get the same benefits as the ones, which are more compact and timid.

Limits on flying

Woman loading elephant on board of plane
Don`t expect that the large animal can be allowed on board

The DOT doesn't have any strict limits on dogs breed, however, they have standards regarding size and behavior. An animal should fit on your lap or under the sit. If it is any bigger, it is not allowed. Also, erratic or aggressive behavior is strictly prohibited, so make sure your animal is well-behaved, compliant and calm. In regards to species, the Department of Transportation allows airlines to prohibit reptiles, ferrets, rodents, sugar gliders, and spiders. That is why, unfortunately, your ESA tiger won’t be able to fly with you. But a cat or a duck will!

Limits on housing

White Alpaca with offspring, South American mammal
Though you can hardly live with emotional support alpaca in an apartment, it can be allowed in the rural areas with the necessary facilities

There are internal guidelines the HUD has. They come down to determining whether accommodation of an ESA is considered reasonable or not. You can read through this long joint DOJ and HUD notice on reasonable accommodations, but here is a brief rundown in regards to ESAs. It is considered unreasonable if it can cause harm to others or put an undue financial strain on a property owner. As so, it would require a modification of a property that would hamper or change its purpose.

It’s all decided on a case by case basis. For instance, having an alpaca in a small project apartment would be unreasonable, while having an emotional support cat would be absolutely fine. At the same time, an alpaca can be allowed in a rural area with facilities for it. Or an ESA accommodation request for a cat can be denied because of a cat allergy that one of the tenants has. In fact, it’s not a limitation really but rather a common-sense policy. Don’t demand anything outlandish and there will be little to no chance of denial.

What other benefits can ESA letter bring to me?

Young woman hugging big dog
Getting the ESA letter helps to circumvent local restrictions on the animal breed and size

But apart from these limitations, emotional support animals can actually help to circumvent some other restrictions and regulations. Local limits on the dangerous breeds and the size of dogs do not apply to ESAs. So, if you've always wanted a pit bull or an Irish wolfhound, but couldn’t due to some ill-thought-through local regulation, well that’s the one way for it.

Another thing an ESA can help with is an exotic or dangerous animal keeping. Chances are that you, in all likelihood, are not allowed to keep a venomous snake or buffalo in a rented apartment. But it would be easier to get a permit to keep it on your own property. Also, if you are into home gardening but your local government prohibits you to keep chickens in a suburban area, they might not be able to stop you if you keep them as ESAs for a condition you have. But keep in mind that regulations wildly differ from locale to locale and state to state. So, we suggest you get legal advice in case you need to be a hundred percent certain.

by GetESA

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ESA Laws and Regulations