An emotional support dog is prescribed by licensed mental health professionals to provide therapeutic support to persons with mental illnesses. The dog is not required to perform any specific tasks for a disability like a service dog. ESA dogs are meant solely to provide comfort to it’s owner, offer 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.They are not permitted access into public places any more than other pets.
Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), an individual who meets the proper criteria may have an emotional support dog to accompany them. 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 (usually without having to pay additional fees). Any dog can be an emotional support dog as long as the owner has a letter from a licensed mental health professional prescribing an ESA dog.
An ESA dog should:
- have basic manners (no jumping, stealing food, barking, etc.)
- know basic obedience (can walk on a leash, sit, down, stay, etc.)
- be friendly and enjoy human touch and interaction