As airlines, flyers and the mental health and disability communities await the new DOT regulatory proposal on ESAs, at least two state legislatures have considered but thus far failed to pass their own ESA-related legislation.
A North Carolina bill passed this year by the state’s House of Representatives was geared primarily toward ESA fraud in the housing sector. It would have made it a misdemeanor to misrepresent a need for an emotional support animal to a landlord. A similar bill was introduced in the Florida Senate this year, but also died.
One proponent of that Florida bill was Chaz Stevens, CEO of Boca Raton-based ESAD, which provides emotional support letters through a network of mental health clinicians around the country. Unlike many online ESA letter services, ESAD requires clients to sit for a 45-minute assessment with one of its clinicians. The charge for the service is $240, Stevens said.
“There are folks who come to us and say, ‘I don’t want to check my dog into cargo, I don’t way to pay the fees,'” he said. “There is a level of fraudulent interest. We say, ‘Have a good day.'”