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Does ADA Cover Emotional Support Animals?

3 min read

You might have heard that people with disabilities and their support animals fall under certain rules according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is not the case with the emotional support animals as ADA regulations cover only service animals and no other type of assistance animal.

As a result, according to legal rules, ESAs aren’t given the same rights as service dogs. Such privileges as access to public places and transport, as well as entering the workplace or university with the assistance animal are only applicable to service dogs, not ESAs.

So, what freedoms are granted to ESA owners? Below you’ll find the answer.

What legal rights are given to ESA owners?

Three hands of a man, woman and a cat are lying one on another.
ESA animals don't have o many rights as service animals and they are not covered by ADA.

Before we start examining the rights of ESA caretakers, it’s worth to look at how the ESAs are classified according to the ADA. In fact, emotional support animals are not recognized as service animals. Even more than that, they are not covered by the ADA at all, so they aren’t given the same rights as their counterparts.

However, since the time when the laws on service animals were implemented, a lot has changed. In fact, today, emotional support animals enjoy many rights and privileges granted to them according to other legal rules. Let’s find out what freedoms ESA owners can enjoy.

  1. Access to public places

ESAs are not given protection when it comes to public accommodation. Perhaps in the future, the policies will change and ESA owners will be given greater opportunities. But for now, only service animals such as dogs and miniature horses can be permitted to enter public areas with their owners.

  1. Rental housing

Under the Fair Housing Act, ESA owners can gain full access to housing rights. In fact, if you have the ESA and a valid ESA letter at hand, the landlords will have to provide you with the necessary accommodation. That’s because homeowners are obliged to give you reasonable housing in case your disability and the need for emotional support are backed up by a valid document.

A peanut family with a dog.
It's good for ESA owners to read the Fair Housing Act to know all the rights they have access to.

  1. Flying by plane

According to the Air Carrier Access Act, not the ADA, you can be given the right to fly with your ESA by plane. The ADA, however, is not responsible for giving you such a privilege. As for other means of transportation, there aren’t any rules that emotional support animals can enjoy in this situation.

  1. Entering the workplace or educational facility

In this case, you won’t have any rights either. According to the existing provisions, emotional support animals are not yet covered by any specific regulations concerning access to the workplace. Therefore, they aren’t allowed to enter the premises of the workplace with their owners. The same goes for access to educational facilities. No such rights are given to ESA holders.

In this way, it’s a widespread misconception that ADA covers emotional support animals. And there are still many areas of concern in relation to how the legal regulations address the problem of rights and freedoms given to ESA owners. It’s yet to be discovered whether any changes in the law will be made in the future.

by GetESA

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ESA Laws and Regulations