A bill just introduced in the Michigan House is aimed at cracking down on the prescription of fake emotional support animals.
House Bill 4910, known as the “misrepresentation of emotional support animals act,” would make it illegal for a person to misrepresent themselves as a person with a disability or as someone with an emotional support animal. According to the bill, a housing provider “may request reliable documentation” from that individual’s health care provider to confirm the person’s need for an emotional support animal.
One site, ESAD International, offers Michigan residents housing letters for $189, or airline letters for $239. Following the announcement of the bill, ESAD wrote a blog post in support of Michigan’s efforts, but also took issue with the state’s six-month clinical relationship requirement.
“Therapeutically, if we take an ESA from a person for six months or two months or whatever, we are increasing the risk of decompensation of the client’s mental health, which puts them at risk for more drastic coping, such as suicidal ideation, intent, plan, etc. or increase in alcohol/drug use, overdose, etc.,” they wrote. “For some people, the ESA is the main reason for getting up in the morning. Taking this away puts them at risk for further deterioration where they may become a greater risk of harm to self or others.”