Legal problems can sometimes bubble up when dealing with the nuanced differences between service and a California Emotional Support Animal.
Service animals, which are traditionally dogs and horses, are highly trained to perform a particular skill, for example detecting a seizure, pulling a wheelchair, and guidance for the visually challenged.
How To Get A California Emotional Support Animal
Comparatively, California Emotional Support Animals require no specialized training. Specialized documentation proving the disability and the need for the California Emotional Support Dog may be required in some instances.
That documentation is known as a California Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter of Recommendation.
California Housing Law Emotional Support Animal
Who can legally obtain an ESA letter? Well, not everyone is allowed to turn the family pet into a legal assistance animal. There are a few caveats for certifying a California Emotional Support Dog or Cat.
- ESAs are reserved for people who suffer from symptoms of emotional, psychological, or mental disorders.
- Those individuals have been assessed by a licensed medical professional or therapist.
For those qualifying, the licensed mental health professional will issue a California Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter of Recommendation.
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A few of the emotional disabilities that qualify an individual for an California ESA include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Social Phobia
California Landlord Tenant Emotional Support Animals
In a nutshell, here’s the qualifying formula provided through Federal guidelines.
- An individual suffers from an emotional or mental disability that’s outlined in the DSM-5 handbook.
- This disability(s) is a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual.”
- Major life activities include, but are not limited to: “…caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.”
- And finally, through its companionship and comfort, an animal (such as the family pet) helps mitigate the symptoms that arise from the previously mentioned issues.
In the end, anyone who believes their California Emotional Support Animal provides a source of comfort, well-being, and helps to mitigate anxiety, depression, and sleep issues (and other emotional disabilities) can qualify.
Let’s talk through an example we encounter … sadly … all too often.
Back from an overseas tour, you’re a wounded warrior suffering from significant PTSD that dramatically impacts your ability to sleep, concentrate, focus, and interact socially. Luckily, your little kitty helps you cope somewhat with these life-changing problems.
Given this scenario, Federal Law allows for a licensed mental health care professionals to issue a California ESA recommendation letter, allowing the vet and kitty access to no-pets-allowed housing (along with the waving of pet deposits) and air-travel.
What’s the California ESA Emotional Support Animal Registration Process?
Without ever leaving the comfort of your home or office, the protocol to qualify your pet as a California Emotional Support Animal consists of three steps:
- Purchase the ESA letter that meets your needs. You are not billed until issued an Emotional Support Animal letter.
- After purchasing your letter, you will quickly, safely, and securely complete our online mental health evaluation.
- Finally, you’ll speak with a licensed mental health professional qualified to assess your needs for a California Emotional Support Animal.
Emotional Support Animal California Travel Laws
In the air, the strict rules of the Federal Air Carrier Access Act govern emotional support animals.
Folks flying with a support animal must have written documentation from a licensed mental health professional declaring the traveler’s disability and the need for the animal. This letter must be issued within the past year, on the professional’s letterhead, and indicate the type of provided health care. Typically, airlines require at least 48 hours notice you’re traveling in the company of a support animal.
Exceptions to Emotional Support Animal California Law
Emotional support animals are not granted unlimited legal protection. In California, only service animals, and not support animals, are offered unfettered access to a public place.
Landlords also have the very limited ability to deny support animals, if the animal poses a threat to the safety or health others or would cause substantial property damage.
This exception is not based on breed or size; the threat to property or safety must be specific to the animal in question.
ESA Letters: What you need to read
Here's what you need to know to secure a legitimate emotional support animal letter.
How this works: In three easy steps, you'll place an order, take an online exam, and chat with a local licensed therapist. Here's a guide to how that works.
How to qualify: An emotional support animal is a type of assistance animal that is recognized as a “reasonable accommodation” for a person with a disability under the federal Fair Housing Act. Two different federal laws regulate emotional support animal letters. Here's how we go about qualifying clients.
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