Archive for the ‘Emotional Support Animal’ Category

When seeking rented accommodation, it is not uncommon to find that landlords or housing providers have imposed a ‘no pets’ policy as part of their agreement. This is usually due to many factors such as noise, potential damage to their property, or simply due to insurance restrictions. While the majority of renters have to abide by this policy, there are some situations where individuals are allowed to keep animals in accommodation where a ‘no pet’ policy is imposed.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that disabled persons may live in accommodation with their service animals, even where pets are not usually allowed. This is because service animals are extremely well behaved due to their extensive training, and are not considered as pets. As emotional support animals are prescribed to individuals as a therapeutic treatment for their psychological disorders, some landlords will allow them to live with their owners despite a ‘no pet’ policy, but they are not always obliged to, and will not always allow this. So what can you do if your landlord does not accept your emotional support animal?

Emotional Support Animals Do Not Have the Same Rights as Service Animals

Animals have long been used to medically assist humans with various needs, such as a service dog to aid a blind or visually impaired person with navigation and protection, or an emotional support animal to provide affection and companionship as part of a treatment plan for anxiety issues. These animals both provide a similar service, but are not regarded equally in the eyes of the law.

Service animals are trained specifically to assist with an individual’s disability and are recognized by the ADA. Emotional support animals, however, are not ADA approved animals and therefore are not exempt from certain restrictions such as access to public places or private establishments in the same way that service animals are.

While applying to rent private accommodation with a ‘no pets’ policy can be a relatively straightforward process for owners of service animals due to the ADA, the same process can be a little more tricky for people with emotional support animals. Not to worry though! The Fair Housing Act protects owners of emotional support animals to live with their ESA in most housing situations.

Some landlords may be okay with Emotional Support Animals, and some might not

Because landlords are not obliged to accept emotional support animals when processing your application in the same way they have to with service dogs, you may have to accept that some accommodation may be off limits to you if you do not have documentation or an ESA letter from a licensed therapist.

Whether you already have an emotional support animal and are seeking new accommodation, or already live in accommodation with a ‘no pet’ policy and have been assigned an emotional support animal, you may face a few barriers regarding your application. Please continue reading to find out how to protect yourself from uninformed landlords. 

How Can I Get an ESA Letter Online?

What to do if my Landlord says “NO” to my Emotional Support Animal?

If you provide the correct documentation from a licensed therapist and your landlord is still insistent about not allowing your ESA, you have a few options.

You can contact the HUD and file a complaint You can contact a lawyer and have them write a strongly worded letter to your landlord You can contact an ESA advocate that will point you in the right direction All hope is not lost thanks to the Fair Housing Act (FHA)

When can apartments not allow my emotional support animal? There are certain circumstances where landlords are not obliged to accept Emotional Support Animals, such as:

Buildings that have four or fewer dwellings of which the landlord is the occupant of one Single family accommodation rented or sold without a real estate broker

Thankfully, an accommodation that does not fall under these categories are not imposed by such restrictions and must consider all service animal or emotional support animal applications.

While service animals are looked upon more favorably in these circumstances, the fact that emotional support animals are technically not pets goes a long way when a landlord processes your application.

Should your landlord decide not to accept your emotional support animal, and if your accommodation doesn’t come under one of the above categories, then you should provide them with a letter from a licenced mental health professional, which, under the Fair Housing Act, should be sufficient proof of your need for an emotional support animal for your application.

If for any reason you are unable to obtain a letter from a licensed mental health professional, there are many services available to provide sufficient proof after a successful assessment. One such service is ESA Doctors who can determine your eligibility for an emotional support animal.

Although applying for an apartment is usually a straightforward process for individuals with emotional support animals, without the need to jump through hoops to be allowed to live with their animal, sometimes the process can be a little trickier than it ought to be. By providing a letter from a licensed mental health professional such as your psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist which verifies your need for an ESA, you should have little problem making a successful application under the Fair Housing Act.

See if you qualify for an emotional support animal.

The Difference Between Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Dogs

Although service dogs for the deaf and blind have been used for decades, doctors and mental health professionals are now attesting to the benefits dogs (and other animals) bring to those individuals that need emotional or stress-relieving help.

However, since this practice of emotional and therapy pooch is relatively new, we tend to clump the jobs these animals do all into one category. Sure, we know these dogs are important to the individuals they are helping but do we know the difference between service dogs, emotional support animals, and therapy dogs?

We’ve consulted with the experts to clear up the mystery and misunderstanding of this important trio.

What is a Service Dog?

According to the organization, ‘Please Don’t Pet Me,’ a service dog is defined as a canine assistant that helps those with physical disabilities. This can include those folks in wheelchairs, limited vision or hearing, epilepsy and a wide array of other physical health problems. This type of dog works to help the disabled person do things and live a life he/she may not be otherwise able to do.

This type of human/canine partnership is protected by The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), DOT’s Air Carrier Access Act, DOJ/HUD Fair Housing Act and Federal Rehabilitation Act. These laws ensure the canine will be granted access to public buildings, airlines, and no-pets apartments/condos.  

A service dog should not be petted by strangers when on duty, as this can be a distraction to the animal which could cause harm to the disabled person.

Since service dogs are highly trained from an early age, obtaining a service animal can be quite costly. Most organizations quote around $20,000 for a service dog. Depending on your country and city of location this fee may be paid by individual fundraising, government programs or by the service dog organization itself. If you are unable to afford a professionally trained service dog, you may train your service dog yourself.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Unlike a service dog, the emotional support animal does not have to be highly trained to do its job. The main focus of an emotional support animal is to be there to provide unconditional love, support, companionship and friendship for the person with a psychological disorder. The idea behind this type of partnership is to help those individuals that may suffer from severe depression, anxiety issues or debilitating stress. A doctor, mental health professional or psychotherapist can prescribe an emotional support animal for the person in need.

The role of the emotional support animal isn’t always awarded to a dog. It can be a cat, bird, turtle, rabbit or even a horse.

According to ESA Doctors, these animals are allowed into ‘no pets allowed’ housing as long as they have an ESA letter or document from a mental health professional.

How Can I Get an ESA Letter Online?

What is a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog is also trained, but for a different purpose. This dog should be naturally friendly, easy-going, loving and able to handle any situation from calm to chaotic. The therapy dog is used for the sole purpose of bringing stress-relief to those in need. This can include schools, hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and more. Therapy dogs are accompanied by a handler (usually the pet parent) and can be interacted with, in fact, it’s encouraged.

The role of the therapy dog can vary from visit-to-visit, depending on where it is needed. Therapy dogs are used in grade schools to encourage reluctant students to read aloud; they may sit with patients that are critically ill or just in need of a pick-me-up, as well as actively participating in someone’s physical rehabilitation.

Albeit an important type of service, therapy dogs are not usually allowed into public places, airlines or those living quarters where there are no pet policies in place.

The Importance of Assistance Animals

The dog and human bond go way back in time, so it’s only natural that we would integrate them into the service world. Dogs have a special intuition that allows them to know when a person is hurting emotionally or is physically ill or disabled. And for this, we are truly blessed to have the lovable canine to be our partners in life.

Whether you need a service dog, emotional support animal or therapy dog, the canine is always on duty.

Using Dogs to Stop Panic Attacks

It’s happening again. Your heart is going a mile-a-minute, you’re sweating and shaking, you’re short of breath, and you’re in a state of absolute panic. But your dog notices what’s going on, comes into the room, jumps onto your lap, and before you know it, everything is fine. But why is this? What is it about dogs that helps to stop panic attacks? Here we explore how dogs can help to soothe sufferers of panic attacks, and more specifically, how to stop panic attacks using dogs.

Obviously, dogs can’t speak or truly understand what you’re saying, nor do they know what anxiety is or what panic attacks are, but somehow they have the ability to calm us down in moments of need. Dogs can do wonders for people who suffer from various anxiety related conditions, and here’s how they can be used to help stop panic attacks.

Dogs love to cuddle

It’s been clinically proven that positive physical touch can calm people down by reducing their heart rate, but this sort of physical affection isn’t always available, especially as the symptoms of panic attacks tend to occur at the most unlikely of times. As dogs are always down for cuddle time, they make the perfect solution for people craving the warm touch they can provide. Simply having a dog sit on your lap or lean against you can significantly reduce the symptoms of a panic attack and help to calm you down.

A dog will listen without trying to ‘fix’ you

Quite often, when discussing anxiety-related issues with people, they will usually listen but also try to offer advice, which is sometimes the last thing you want when pouring your heart out. Having a dog nearby to speak to can often alleviate the symptoms of a panic attack, as you can say absolutely anything you want without the fear of being judged, and knowing your dog won’t try to offer advice – because it can’t. Simply knowing you have an impartial listener can really help towards stopping panic attacks from happening.

Dogs are a great distraction

When left to our own devices, we can let our mind wonder and think about situations we wouldn’t normally think of, and this can be much worse for people with anxiety issues and suffer from panic attacks. As dogs are always available to play, take for walks, or just to snuggle with, they make for an excellent distraction from any wondering thoughts we might have. How can we think about worst case scenarios when playing fetch with an enthusiastic dog? It’s well known that dogs require a lot of care and affection, so when your focus is on looking after a dog, there will be less time to focus on any negative thoughts.

Having a dog around can help loneliness

Being alone at home for long periods of time can increase the chance of developing anxiety related disorders such as panic attacks. A flicker of light or the slightest noise can put you on edge, and the worry of being alone can induce a panic attack. By having a dog with you, you’ll definitely never be alone – there will always be someone you can share your latest news with, someone to play with and someone to cuddle up to.

Playing with your dog is a fantastic way to clear your mind

With all the stresses of daily life, it’s a wonder more people don’t suffer from anxiety related issues. Thinking about worrisome situations can only lead to more negative trains of thought, but it’s hard to worry about life when taking your dog for a walk, or see them being silly. In fact, playing with a dog has the ability to massively relieve stress and decrease the chances of having a panic attack. By simply focusing on your dog can really help to clear your mind and enable you to come up with solutions to any problems you may have, real or imagined.

Whether you’re a sufferer of panic attacks, have anxiety issues or simply want a loving companion, a dog can help anyone seeking to improve their life. A dog can be a shoulder to lean on in times of need, a non-judgemental listener, a great distraction from life’s stresses, a great companion to ward off loneliness, and can help to clear your mind. Why not think about getting a dog to help stop panic attacks?

For more information on service dog requirements click here.

For more information on how to obtain an emotional support animal letter from a doctor click here.