Emotional support dogs are dogs that provide comfort and support in forms of affection and companionship for an individual suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform any specific tasks for a disability like service dogs are. They are meant solely for emotional stability and unconditional love. They can assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, fear/phobias, and other psychological and emotional conditions.
Emotional support dogs are protected under federal law
Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), an individual who meets the proper criteria is entitled to an emotional support dog to assist them with their life. The FHAA protects individuals by allowing their emotional support dog to live with them (even when there are no pet policies in place). The ACAA protects individuals by allowing the emotional support dog to fly with them in the cabin of an airplane (without having to pay any additional fees). Any dog can be an emotional support dog, and emotional support dogs do not have to be professionally-trained.
A Medical Recommendation is Required
You are required to have a letter from a doctor or mental health professional recommending that you have an emotional support dog for your condition. You may be asked to present this letter by airline staff when flying or by your landlord when renting a home.
Identifying emotional support dogs for the public
Emotional support dogs are often identified by wearing an emotional support dog vest or tag, letting the public know that it is an emotional support dog; otherwise, their handlers will find themselves having to explain that their dog is an emotional support dog. Some businesses, such as airlines, prefer to see an identification card or vest that indicates that the dog is an emotional support dog.
List of Disabilities
An emotional support dog can assist with various kinds of mental and emotional conditions.
Here is a list of some mental and emotional conditions individuals may have that may be helped by having an emotional support dog:
- Bipolar disorder
- Mood disorder
- Panic attacks
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Suicidal Thoughts/Tendencies
Do you have a Disability?
The National Institute of Mental Health shows that more than 1 in 4 adults in the United States have some form of mental disorder. If you are suffering from an emotional or psychological condition then you are entitled to an emotional support dog. Consult with your physician for more information.
Living With Your Emotional Support Dog
The Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) gives individuals the right to live with their emotional support dog regardless of any building or residences with a no-pet policy. Building managers or landlords may not refuse your emotional support dog. You are required to have a current (within the past year) letter from a doctor or mental health professional recommending that you have an emotional support dog for your condition.
Flying With Your Emotional Support Dog
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows emotional support dogs on airplanes when individuals with emotional support dogs are traveling. A written note from a doctor or mental health professional is required by the airlines that is not more than one year old. Also, your emotional support dog must be trained to behave appropriately in a public setting. There is no additional charge to travel with your emotional support dog. You should let your airline know 48 hours before your scheduled departure that you are bringing an emotional support dog so that they can make the proper accommodations for you.