Over the years, emotional support animals have become a really popular trend. Why? Surely, the main reason is the unconditional loyalty and companionship they offer to their owners. As a result, almost any cuddly creature can be viewed as a support animal as long as it helps its caretaker to deal with some mental disability or at least to bring the bothering symptoms to a minimum. 

Indeed, the role played by ESA for the psychological state of a person goes beyond all limits. But every medal has two sides. If you live in Tennessee and are thinking of getting a support animal, it’s crucial to first get familiar with the rules. After all, it’s not all about having a little friend as your constant company simply because there are also certain laws to put up with. In fact, with service animals being allowed to public areas, many people would expect the local laws to also offer more rights to ESA owners but it is not completely true. That’s because there are still some restrictions that you should know about before making this life-changing choice and getting your own ESA. 

Keep reading to find out everything you might wish to know about how to get a support animal in Tennessee and what rules to abide by when traveling with your furry companion.

Clarifying the terms

If getting an ESA in Tennessee is what you’ve been thinking of lately, you might already know that it could bring you lots of amazing benefits and even change your life for better. Everyone would agree that any pet can be the best source of comfort in times of stress but it’s especially true for those who suffer from some kind of mental disability. Exactly for this reason, the residents of Tennessee who fruitlessly struggle with their depression or panic attacks now have a chance to talk to a certified medical specialist and get relief from their mental disorder by taking an ESA pet. 

But what are the emotional support animals and how do they differ from other assistance pets? In fact, even today not many people can draw a line between service animals and ESA so let’s get it straight. Assistance animals as a whole embrace both service animals and ESA. But what makes service animals different is that they are specially trained to help physically disabled people complete some vital tasks to let their owners live a fairly normal life. This may include helping people with visual impairments to cross the road or performing some other life-critical tasks to help those who suffer from any crippling physical disability. By contrast, emotional support animals do not really need any specialized training. They simply offer companionship and emotional relief to those who struggle with serious psychological problems but cannot win in this unequal battle without support. 

Rights and restrictions for Tennessee ESA owners

It comes as no surprise that owning either type of assistance pet encompasses not only having freedoms but also facing unpleasant limitations according to the laws of Tennessee. It’s very unfortunate but ESA is not yet covered by The Americans with Disabilities Act along with the local service animal regulations. Instead, as stated in Tennessee laws, you cannot enter public areas with an ESA including restaurants, shopping centers, and supermarkets among others. Service animals, however, are granted this privilege. Pretty unfair, isn’t it? But that’s what you have to put up with if you live in this state. Luckily, some regulations here still offer certain protection to emotional support animals and their owners.

What you should understand is that even if you get an ESA letter as a legal proof that you really need a little companion, there are still a few points to keep in mind if you want to stay within the law and not violate the rules of play from the legal perspective.

What laws will you face if you are an ESA owner in Tennessee?

The laws of Tennessee cover different areas related to traveling by plane, renting a home and following rules at the workplace. Each of them does not just give you some rights but also has some restrictions. Forewarned is forearmed so here is what you need to remember: 

  • Know the rules when renting a housing

Much to the delight of all ESA owners, The Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act gives mentally disabled people a right to rent an apartment where no pets are allowed. Besides, some universities in Tennessee also allow keeping pets on campus if a student has an emotional disability even though not all educational institutions give such permissions in this state. But what is also true is that the landlords also have a privilege to claim payment for any damage caused by your animal. So basically, if your ESA can behave properly without showing aggression or bad manners, you’ll have a legal right to rent any housing you wish. If not, the landlord might give you a warning.  What’s more, you also need to ensure that your ESA certificate is up to date as it is usually issued for one year only and expires annually. 

  • Beware of traveling restrictions

Do you want your pet to be your constant company even during travels? Then you might already know that a great plus of having an ESA pet is the right to take it onboard the plane and travel with it wherever you wish. And the good news for the residents of Tennessee is that the local laws give ESA owners the long-hoped-for freedom of traveling together with their pets. 

The recent federal law known as The Air Carrier Access Act gives a right to bring the ESA pet into the cabin of the airplane instead of keeping it in the cargo section. However, you still need to follow some compliance laws. If you fail to do it, the airline reserves the right to refuse you and your pet the accommodation on the plane.

  • Learn more about your workplace rights

In Tennessee, the attitude to ESA that accompany people with disabilities may vary from one employer to the other. However, if you legally prove that you really need your pet at the workplace to ensure your mental well-being, the employer will have no other choice than to accept your right and give you permission. 

What if I don`t play by the rules?

Now that you’ve learned more about the laws and rules for ESA owners in Tennessee, you might wish to know what will happen if you do not abide by the law. In fact, Tennessee is not among those American states that punish ESA owners for misrepresenting their pets. Some people simply want to have more freedom when traveling or renting a home but they don’t have a real need for emotional support. And for the worse or for the better, Tennessee does not yet have any legal punishment for those who may try to evade the law. 

What’s more, if you live in Tennessee and make up your mind to get an ESA letter online, you’ll soon realize that it’s not a very hard task as everything can be done quickly and with no fuss. What you’ll have to do is just get an online consultation with a licensed professional who will evaluate your need for a support animal and will then give advice based on your circumstances. And you can also be sure that the mental health expert whom you’ll be talking to is a qualified specialist who will always treat you with respect and display professionalism in any situation. 

But before making any decision, it’s always worth to weigh up the pros and cons, and who knows, maybe this life-changing choice will be exactly what you need to bring your mental health back to normal. So why not test your luck now? Just make your final decision and start changing your life for the better!