Service Dog FAQ & Emotional Support Dog FAQ

service dog emotional support dog faq

 

SERVICE DOG FAQ & EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG FAQ

SERVICE DOG FAQ

What Is A Service Animal?
How To Qualify for A Service Dog
What Is a Physical Impairment?
Some Examples of a Physical Impairment
What is NOT an Impairment?
What Are Major Life Activities?
Do You Need A Letter From A Doctor to Qualify?
What Are Your Protections and Rights?
Flying With A Service Dog
Qualify For No Pet (Including Limited Size/Species/Breed) Housing
What Kinds of Facilities are Places of Public Accommodation?
Why Register Your Service Dog?
How To Register Your Service Dog

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG FAQ

What Is An Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
What Animals Qualify To Be An Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
How To Qualify
Do You Have A Therapist?
What Are Your Legal Protections and Rights?
Flying With Your Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
Housing Rights for You and Your Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
Why Register Your Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
How To Register Your Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

SERVICE DOG FAQ

What Is A Service Animal?
Service animals are dogs (and in some cases, miniature horses) trained to perform major life tasks to assist people with physical or severe psychiatric impairments/disabilities. Service animals are sometimes referred to as assistance animals, assist animals, support animals, or helper animals depending on the country and the animal’s function.

How To Qualify for A Service Dog
For a person to legally qualify to have a service dog, he/she must have a physical impairment (or severe psychiatric impairment) that substantially limits his/her ability to perform at least one major life activity without assistance. There are no limitations with respect to the kinds of impairments/disabilties this applies to.

What Is a Physical Impairment?
A physical impairment is any medical disorder, condition, disfigurement or loss affecting one of the body systems, such as neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, immune, circulatory, hemic, lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.

Some Examples of a Physical Impairment
Examples of conditions that are impairments: AIDS, and its symptoms; Alcoholism; Asthma; Blindness or other visual impairments; Cancer; Cerebral palsy; Depression; Diabetes, Epilepsy; Hearing or speech impairments; Heart Disease; Migraine Headaches; Multiple sclerosis; Muscular dystrophy; Orthopedic impairments; Paralysis; complications from Pregnancy; Thyroid gland disorders; Tuberculosis; loss of body parts.

What is NOT an Impairment?
Certain temporary, non-chronic impairments of short duration with little or no residual effects usually are not disabilities. Likewise, environmental conditions and alternative lifestyles are not protected. A person currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs is not considered an individual with a disability. This refers both to the illegal use of unlawful drugs such as cocaine, as well as illegal use of prescription drugs.

Examples of conditions that are NOT impairments:
The common cold or the flu, a sprained joint, minor and non-chronic gastrointestinal disorders, a broken bone that is expected to heal completely, compulsive gambling, pregnancy, old age, lack of education, poor judgment, or bisexuality or homosexuality.

What Are Major Life Activities?
These consist of functions such as caring for yourself, (including bathing, dressing, shaving, preparing a meal, and going to the restroom), performing manual tasks, eating, sleeping, standing, walking, lifting, reaching, bending, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, and working.

As a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, major life activities now also include the operation of any major bodily function, including, but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive (procreation) functions.

Major life activities do NOT include the following:

  • Caring for others
  • Driving
  • Ability to have a relationship
  • Grocery shopping

Do You Need A Letter From A Doctor to Qualify?
It isn’t necessary to possess a letter from a physician that states you are disabled and require a trained service dog, but if someone legally challenges a person claiming to be disabled, proof of the disability will be necessary at that point. What you must be prepared to do when in public is confirm you are disabled and provide credible verbal evidence of what your service dog is trained to do.

What Are Your Protections and Rights?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), 42 U.S.C. 12101, prohibits discrimination on the basis of “disability” in several critical areas. Those areas include:

  • State and local government services
  • Places of public accommodation
  • Employment
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation

That means you are entitled by federal law to be accompanied by your service dog anywhere a non-disabled person could go.

Flying With A Service Dog
If you are disabled and have a trained service dog, you have the right to be accompanied by your service dog in the cabin of an aircraft and not be charged a fee. There are some limitations and exceptions that can be made at the discretion of airline personnel, however. For example, the animal must be able to stay on the floor between your knees and the seat in front of you. If the dog is too large or the plane to crowded, they can require you to crate the dog.

Click here for more information.

Qualify For No Pet (Including Limited Size/Species/Breed) Housing
The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 requires property managers and landlords to make a reasonable accommodation (a change in the rules) to permit a disabled handler to have a service dog and not be charged a pet or other fee. That means if they have a “cats only” policy, they must accept your service dog. If they have a policy that allows dogs weighing no more than 30 lbs. and your service dog weighs 75 lbs., they must make a change in the rules to accommodate you. If they accept all dogs, except pit bulls, and you have a pit bull, they must allow your pit bull to reside with you. Click here for detailed information

What Kinds of Facilities are Places of Public Accommodation?
A “place of public accommodation” includes almost every type of operation which is open for business or which comes in contact with the general public. Specifically, it includes any commercial facility, operated by a private entity (not the government), whose operations fall within at least one of 12 different categories. A disabled person is protected by law to be accompanied by a service dog in the following areas:

  • Places of lodging.
    • Examples: An inn, a hotel, a motel.
  • Establishments serving food or drink.
    • Examples: A restaurant, a bar.
  • Places of exhibition or entertainment.
    • Examples: A movie house, a theater, a concert hall, a stadium.
  • Places of public gathering.
    • Examples: An auditorium, a convention center, a lecture hall.
  • Sales or rental establishments.
    • Examples: A bakery, a grocery store, a clothing store, a hardware store, a shopping center, bookstores, video rental stores, car rental places, pet stores, jewelry stores.
  • Service establishments.
    • Examples: A laundromat or dry cleaner; a bank, a barber shop, a travel service, a shoe repair shop, a funeral parlor, a gas station, a lawyer’s or doctor’s office, a pharmacy, an insurance office, a hospital.
  • Stations for public transportation.
    • Examples: A terminal, a depot, or other station for transportation by bus, train, or airplane.
  • Places of public display or collection.
    • Examples: A museum, a library, a gallery.
  • Places of recreation.
    • Examples: A park, a zoo, an amusement park.
  • Places of education.
    • Examples: A nursery or pre-school, an elementary, secondary, undergraduate or postgraduate private school.
  • Social service center establishments.
    • Examples: A day care center, a senior citizen center, a homeless shelter, a food bank, an adoption agency, substance abuse treatment centers, rape crisis centers, halfway houses.
  • Places of exercise or recreation.
    • Examples: A gym, a health spa, a bowling alley, a golf course.

Note: A public accommodation cannot refuse to serve you because its insurance coverage or rates are conditioned on the absence of persons with disabilities.

Private Clubs and Religious Organizations Are Not Considered Public Accommodations

Title III of the ADA does not apply to:

Private clubs, not open to the public
Religious organizations and places of worship

Why Register Your Service Dog?
Registration is not federally mandated or compulsory, but voluntary. The importance of registering your service dog, however, is that it not only legitimizes your dog (making him/her look official), but eliminates nearly all the hassles and confrontation you’ll encounter without it. This is why the United States Service Animal Registrar exists: To make life easier and less problematic for the disabled!

How To Register Your Service Dog?
To find out more about or begin to register your service dog, click here. We guarantee your life will be enhanced, as a result!

Click here to register your SERVICE DOG with the United States Animal Registrar Service Dog Registry

REGISTER YOUR ANIMAL NOW

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG FAQ

What Is An Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a person’s pet that has been prescribed by a person’s licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist (any licensed mental health professional). The animal is part of the treatment program for this person and is designed to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional/psychological disability.

What Animals Qualify To Be An ESA?
All domesticated animals may qualify as an ESA (cats, dog, mice, rabbits, birds, snakes, hedgehogs, rats, mini pigs, ferrets, etc.) and they can be any age (young puppies and kittens, too!). These animals do not need any specific task-training because their very presence mitigates the symptoms associated with a person’s psychological/emotional disability, unlike a working service dog. The only requirement is that the animal is manageable in public and does not create a nuisance in or around the home setting.

How To Qualify
For a person to legally qualify for an emotional support animal (ESA), he/she must be considered emotionally disabled by a licensed mental health professional (therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.), as evidenced by a properly formatted prescription letter. Typically, a medical doctor does not qualify because they are not a licensed mental health professional. Some airlines and property managers will accept a verification form completed by a family doctor, however.

The letter should state that:

You are currently his/her patient
Are under his/her care for the treatment of mental disability found in the DSM IV or V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 or 5).
Your disability substantially limits at least one major life activity
He/she prescribes for you an emotional support animal as a necessary treatment for your mental health.

In addition, the letter must be dated, written on his/her letterhead, include his/her license type, number, date of license, and state in which the license was issued.

Do You Have A Therapist?
If you have no therapist or your therapist is unwilling to write such a letter, we recommend using Chilhowee Psychological Services; a licensed mental health services agency that specializes in online/telephone disability assessments and offers letters of prescription to clients who qualify. This agency is approved by the U.S. Justice Department, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Transportation (the agencies that govern the laws protecting emotionally disabled handlers and their ESAs)

What Are Your Legal Protections and Rights?
The Air Carrier Access Act 49 U.S.C. 41705, Dept. of Transportation 14 C.F.R. Part 382, Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 are the laws that protect an emotionally disabled person and his/her ESA.

The legal protections an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) has are to:
Fly with its emotionally or psychologically disabled handler in the cabin of an aircraft without being charged a pet fee.

Click here for detailed information on Flying with Your Emotional Support Animal.

Qualify for no-pet housing (that also includes limited size, breed, or species housing) without being charged a pet fee.

Click here for detailed information on Housing Rights For You And Your ESA

No other public or private entity (motels, restaurants, stores, trains, taxis, busses, theatres, parks, beaches, libraries, zoos, etc.) is required to allow your ESA to accompany you and in all other instances, your ESA has no more rights than a pet. That means they aren’t protected by law to accompany you into any public place that does not allow pets. That doesn’t mean these places won’t let you, it just means that they are not required to, by law.

Flying With Your Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
Click here for detailed information about Flying with Your Emotional Support Animal.

Housing Rights for You and Your Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
Click here for detailed information on Housing Rights For You And Your ESA.

Why Register Your ESA?
Registration is voluntary; not compulsory. But, registering your pet as an ESA not only legitimizes your ESA (making him/her look official), but eliminates nearly all the hassles and confrontation you’ll encounter without it. This is why United States Service Animal Registrar exists: To make life easier for the disabled!

How To Register Your ESA
To find out more about or begin to register your Emotional Support Animal (ESA), Click Here. We guarantee your life will be enhanced, as a result!

Click here to register your EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL with the United States Animal Registrar

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL Registry

REGISTER YOUR ANIMAL NOW