An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides emotional support and therapeutic benefits for someone who has been diagnosed with a mental or emotional disability. Emotional support animals can provide tremendous benefits to their handlers. However, unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although their legal protections are somewhat limited, there are two federal laws that recognize a “reasonable accommodation” for emotional support animals. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, a landlord may be required to allow you to have your emotional support animal in your home, despite a “no-pets” policy. In addition, airlines may be required to allow you to travel with your emotional support animal under the federal Air Carrier Access Act (it is always a good idea to check with the airline prior to booking your ticket to be informed of any additional guidelines or documentation requirements that specific airline may have).
It is important to understand that an emotional support animal is to be distinguished from a service animal. A service animal is trained to perform specific tasks in connection with a person’s disability. Service animals are protected by federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which limits service animals to dogs and miniature horses. An emotional support animal may be any type of animal, and the animal is not specifically trained to carry out any tasks. Rather, the emotional support animal offers comfort and emotional benefit to its handler. Typically, a person who requires an emotional support animal to benefit their mental or emotional health can have one designated with written documentation from a qualified medical professional.
If you believe that you have been wrongfully denied a reasonable accommodation in connection with your emotional support animal, it is best to consult with an attorney who handles animal law issues to discuss your specific issue, legal rights and remedies. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is available to handle animal law matters, including emotional support animal issues. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is available to represent clients on matters related to animal law in New York City, including Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island; Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties, and Westchester.
Contact The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins to discuss your emotional support animal issue today by calling (646) 397-6844 to schedule a consultation. Consultations are by appointment only and may be scheduled at office locations in Manhattan or Melville, for the convenience of clients.
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