When it comes to Emotional Support Animals, misconceptions and myths abound. People often believe Service Dogs and ESAs are the same things, with similar access rights. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Emotional Support Animals aren't Service Dogs, they don't have public access, and they don't require specialized training. Keep reading and dig into the nitty-gritty facts about ESAs. Emotional Support Dogs Don't Have Public Access Contrary to popular belief and pop culture, Emotional Support Animals don't possess public access rights. They do not belong in grocery stores, restaurants, or in places of public accommodation. This includes hospitals, doctors offices, pharmacies, and other medical environments. Nothing grants ESAs public access rights, not even a vest or an ID card, because, under U.S. federal law, ESAs do not have public access rights. Period. End of story. ESAs may accompany their handlers only in places where pets are allowed, with a couple of notable exceptions -- housing and air transport. ESAs Have Access to Housing and Air Transport (But Only With Proper Documentation) Two exceptions exist to the "no public access" rule for ESAs -- housing and air travel. With proper documentation, an ESA with the appropriate temperament and training may be allowed to accompany their handler during flights and in no-pets-allowed housing. Documentation standards can vary, but generally speaking, airlines require proof of the handler's need for the ESA, adherence to behavioral and training standards, proof of vaccinations, and advanced notification of intent to travel. For housing, most landlords require a letter from a person's doctor or psychiatrist, proof of vaccinations, and a signed statement of liability. ESA status does not exempt someone for being responsible for any damages caused by their ESA. ESAs Don't Require Specialized Training (Unless They Do) Unlike Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals don't (usually) require specialized training. If someone plans on traveling via air with their ESA, though, then their ESA must meet training and behavioral guidelines. They must be capable of working safely in public, which means no timidity, no fear, no aggression, no out of control behavior, and no excessive vocalizing. Emotional Support Animals Aren't Service Dogs Emotional Support Animals, including Emotional Support Dogs, are not Service Dogs. Let's say it again for the people in the back -- ESAs differ from Service Dogs. While ESAs add value to their handler's lives, legally, they have the same rights as pets, unlike Service Dogs. Service Dogs receive accommodation under America's disability
Science proves living with a dog carries many physical and mental benefits. Blood pressure goes down, people deal with less anxiety and generally speaking, just feel better. Dogs offer great emotional support, help us get more activity, and give the best snuggles. Benefits aside, though, simply having a dog who helps you feel better doesn't make a dog a Service Dog. Only trained tasks do that, along with proper behavior, manners, and temperament. Without further ado, here are 5 awesome things dogs do that aren't Service Dog tasks. Provide Emotional Support When it comes to unconditional love, acceptance, and pure joy, not much beats a good dog. Science agrees that dogs provide incredible emotional support and health perks. Be that as it may, though, emotional support, relieving anxiety, or helping with depression are not, in and of themselves, Service Dog tasks. Service Dog laws specifically exclude emotional support resulting from natural behaviors as a task. Service Dog tasks require specific training and cannot be natural behaviors any dog is capable of doing. Help You Get Things Done Lots of people struggle with daily chores and activities, including things like just getting out of bed. Having a dog can provide the boost some people need to get things done. After all, the dog needs to go out, be fed, and get some exercise. Having a dog can be a great help when dealing with some of the more difficult mental illness symptoms. However, helping you get things done is not a Service Dog task, unless the way your dog assists you is the result of specific training that is replicable on cue. Encourage Outings Walking a dog or going outside to play offers a great way to get some exercise and sunlight. For people who struggle with anxiety or who have phobias, getting out and about can be near impossible. Having a dog can make some of those activities easier. However, daily activities all dogs do aren't Service Dog tasks. Require Interaction Many mental illnesses and chronic disorders result in apathy or a desire for less interaction. Living with a dog usually means providing touch and contact, since dogs need that to be healthy, and so do humans! However, simply interacting isn't a Service Dog task, unless it's a replicable behavior that's trained to assist in a concrete way. Snuggle Snuggling is great. Snuggling with a willing canine companion can be quite relaxing and soothing. No matter how much it helps
On April 25th, 2013 HUD issued new guidelines for housing Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals in an effort to clarify the law for landlords, Service Dog handlers and Emotional Support Animal owners. The new wording brings it closer in-line with the ADA. You may view the original PDF or review the text below.