Cute funny dog with eyeglasses sitting at workplace in office

Where Are Emotional Support Dogs Allowed?

4 min read

We cannot imagine our life without pets. We treat them as family members and even a 5-minute play with the pretty cat or dog can give us an energy boost and prepare to meet new challenges. For some people, five or ten minutes with their pets cannot be enough, and they need to keep their animal around in any situation.

How Are Service Animals Different from Emotional Support Animals?

The main difference between a service and an emotional support animal is that the former undergoes special training to assist people with any kind of disability: sensory, intellectual, mental, psychiatric. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, help those suffering from depression, phobias, anxiety, loneliness, etc.

These animals are not expected to perform a specific set of actions. Moreover, ESA may be any wild or domestic animal, whereas mainly dogs act as service animals.

Laws Covering ESA Rights


1. Americans with Disabilities Act

When it comes to service animals, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, they have access to all public places, but what about emotional support animals?

2. The Fair Housing Act (FHA)

According to the Fair Housing Act, a house owner cannot refuse to accommodate the ESA handler, even when the apartment is not pet-friendly. Moreover, you are not supposed to pay any additional fees because emotional support animals are not considered pets, according to the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Still, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, if your animal is too big (e.g. camel or horse) or dangerous for other tenants, a landlord can refuse to settle you.  Some unfair landlords can ask you to show your medical record to prove your need for an ESA. But the important thing to remember is that you’re not obliged to share this information by the law.

3. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

Another law covering ESA rights is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), under which emotional support animals can accompany their owners on board. Most airlines typically ask to inform them at least 48 hours or even more in advance that you are traveling with an ESA. But flight attendants have no right to deny boarding even if you haven’t informed them in advance. But to avoid any inconveniences, we encourage sticking to the airline policy.

Where Emotional Support Dogs Are Allowed:

  1. Pet-Friendly Establishments.

pets welcome, 3D rendering, triple flags

Your dog is surely welcome at all pet-friendly establishments. Specifically, an Emotional Support Dog: there’s a positive tendency showing that more and more people realize the need for ESA and provide pet-friendly policy at public places.  That gives us an optimistic outlook in the future. 

      2. Rented Housing.

Young woman playing with her dog at home

As ESAs are considered a part of a treatment plan, they are supposed to assist their owners and accompany them at any place. Since most of the time people typically spend in their apartments, the FHA requires all property owners to allow tenants, accompanied by ESA.

       3. Planes.

A dog in the airport

As previously mentioned, the ESA owners must be allowed in plains, according to the ACAA. Although emotional support dogs can stay in a cabin with their owners, they must sit either under the seat in front or on a lap. They are forbidden to remain in the aisle as it may block an emergency exit or cause inconvenience to the other passengers. Just like in the case of rented apartments, you cannot be charged anything extra. But please be prepared to provide a valid ESA letter (it’s usually valid for one year) that proves your legitimate need for an ESA.

 Where Emotional Support Dogs Are Forbidden

  1. Public Stores, Cinemas and Restaurants

Dog sitting in a restaurant waiting to be attended

Unlike service dogs, emotional support dogs are forbidden in most public establishments. This means you can’t take your ESD to a cinema or a store, for example.If you want it to go with you, you’d better ask a store manager for permission. While doing so, try to be polite and explain that your dog is well-behaved.

      2. Workplace

Full length portrit of dog wearing tie siting at desk and using computer

As a matter of law, animals are forbidden at the workplace, despite that emotional support animals help their owners reduce stress or anxiety same as lower blood pressure. However, most employers refuse to understand the benefits of emotional support dogs and prohibit their employees to have ESAs near them. If you want an exception to be made, try contacting your office manager and explain that the ESA is not just a wish but a necessity for you. Furthermore, be sure that your emotional support dog is potty-trained and won’t do any harm to your colleagues.

Well-Behaved Animals Are Always Welcome

Before you want to enter any place with your ESD, make sure it behaves well in public places: your dog should not bother others. If you want to travel with your ESD without hassle, here are some tips for you:

  • Always check the policy of a place where you are going with your dog;
  • Train your animal and teach it to behave in public;
  • Look for some pet-friendly establishments;
  • Always check your documents before going somewhere. Make sure your ESA letter is valid;
  • Warn the airlines that you take your ESD with you.

By following these simple rules, you can travel with comfort and keep your emotional support dog near you most of the time.

by GetESA

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ESA Laws and Regulations