More often than not, interacting with animals is one of the most effective ways to provide an individual with a sense of comfort, relief, and security. Essential now in the lives of many Americans, emotional support animals (ESAs) are helping to reduce the effects of anxiety, post-traumatic stress and the many other damaging symptoms attached to those suffering from mental and/or emotional illnesses. Learn more about how getting an emotional support animal in Alabama can benefit you!
Emotional Support Animal in Alabama: Specific protection
Getting an emotional support animal in Alabama is not very different from the rest of America. However, due to the slight differences in laws from state to state, it’s important you know your rights!
Definition of an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
According to Alabama state law, an assistance animal is an animal that provides physical or emotional benefits from living in the home, aka support animals and emotional support animals. Unlike some assistance animals (such as service dogs) ESAs are not allowed in restaurants, retail outlets or workplaces (unless ‘pet-friendly’).
However, there are two federal laws separating ESAs from your typical house pet. These include the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA), both supporting ESAs and preventing discrimination against those suffering from a disability.
How do I get an ESA in Alabama?
Thanks to CertaPet, getting an emotional support animal in Alabama is right at the tip of your fingers. CertaPet offers an easy-to-follow, hassle-free process to help you get in touch with the professionals you need! To begin, follow these steps.
1)- Complete a free online 5min pre-screening.
2)- Get connected online with an LMHP.
3)- Upon approval, you will receive an ESA letter form CertaPet in less than 48 hours!
CertaPet is with you every step of the way, maintaining your best interest at heart.
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
Provided you meet the requirements, getting an emotional support animal in Alabama means ESAs can accompany owners during air travel!
Thanks to the ACAA, this is without any further questioning or an extra fee. You can even have your ESA sit in the cabin with you! Airlines are not allowed to restrict owners from the company of ESAs or boarding the plane. However, to ensure security under the ACAA, compliance with airline regulations is expected, aka an ESA letter!
What this letter includes:
- An ESA letter (from a Licensed Mental Health Professional) prescribing the animal as an emotional support animal and the benefits it has for the particular mental or/and emotional disorder of the patient.
- An explanation for how the animal provides emotional support.
- The Diagnosis must comply with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Take note, however: many commercial airlines have tightened their rules regarding emotional support animals. Most carriers now require passengers to supply an ESA letter, and some require the passenger to submit documentation 48 hours in advance. Some airlines also request additional medical information from a veterinarian.
In addition to the support offered regarding ESAs in air travel, there is also a special consideration for those with a disability when deciding on accommodation and housing.
Defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is a dog that has had specialized training to assist or work for their owners. These service animals are allowed in most public areas including the likes of the workplace. This law protects the discrimination of people who need a service animal in the likes of a workplace.
Unfortunately, because ESAs are viewed as comfort animals more than a necessity, in the state of Alabama they are not covered under the ADA.
Although, circumstances are very subjective and some workplaces are very welcoming to animals! So, if you’re curious, ask your employer!
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
In the state of Alabama, landlords are legally required to allow renters to live with their ESAs on the property. This is enforced by the Fair Housing Act and primarily means landlords can not evict, deny housing or charge extra fees due to the patient requiring an ESA.
Landlords may ask for suitable documentation of the disability and the disability-related need for an ESA animal. For this reason, it is important to be prepared with these documentations. If you can not provide this documentation, or your ESA is causing outstanding damage to the property, the landlord can deny you of your ESA.
ESA Campus Housing
Being in college in Alabama with an ESA is no longer an issue either! In conjunction with the FHA, the Rehabilitation Act works to support students living on campus which require ESAs, prohibiting any unnecessary discrimination.
Exceptions to Rules
There are some exceptions in the state of Alabama that you should consider regarding ESAs. Firstly, it is important to remember ESAs are not in the same legal category as service animals, so consequently are more limited in terms of public acceptance. For example, public places are not required to allow ESAs on the property, but for a service dog it would be illegal to deny access.
Also, there can be exceptions made if the ESA is proving dangerous or threatening towards other individuals. For example, an airline could deny the travel of an ESA if there are other passengers in danger, and the animal is showing clear behavioral signs of aggression or alarming annoyance.
Fortunately, most ESAs are full of affection, offering nothing but smiles and hugs to the general public!
Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistant Animal
There are 18 states in the US which have laws in place making it illegal to fraudulently represent an assistance animal. However, it is worth noting Alabama has no such punishment for this misconduct.
3 Facts you should know before you get an ESA!
- Most importantly, the endless health benefits of owning an ESA! Numerous scientific studies have proven animals reduce stress, heart rate, cortisol levels, lower blood pressure and decrease cholesterol.
- There is no requirement for an ‘ESA registration’ or ‘ESA Certificate’, these are not real! Other companies may take advantage of naive patients and exploit them for money. The most official part of the process is receiving a letter from a mental health professional recognizing the need for an ESA and the diagnosis involved.
- Remember, an ESA does not need any type of specialized training! Breed, size, and weight limitations do not apply to assistant animals either so you could have any animal you like!
Where to find a suitable Emotional Support Animal in Alabama?
Already have a pet? If a mental health professional believes this animal brings relief, security, and comfort to you, then it can likely become your designated ESA!
If you need to get an animal, most animal shelters have countless potential companions waiting for you! There are plenty of animal shelters throughout Alabama. The animal shelters in the major cities are overflowing with animals of all shapes and sizes.
Remember, the ESA letter is granted to the patient with the mental disability, not the animal. It’s actually impossible to buy a ‘ready-made’ ESA!
Where To Take your Emotional Support Animal
Lots of places! Here are a few favorites in the major cities:
- Rhodes Park, the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center and Red Mountain Park are all dog-friendly places.
- Rojo and Chez Lulu are both highly recommended dog-friendly restaurants too!
- Blount Cultural Park and The Hannah Daye Ridling Bark Park are both popular areas when it comes to our little friends.
- If eating out with your ESA is particular enjoyment then the Capital Oyster Bar and The Tipping point are the places to be!
- The River Shack Restaurant welcomes dogs with open and the Mobile Botanical Gardens is where sunshine is of the plenty
Not living in a big city? No worries! BringFido.com has a whole collection of places all over Alabama you can take your fluffy friends.
Emotional Support Animal in Alabama? Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!
If you’re in the state of Alabama and suffering from social anxiety, depression, panic disorder, bipolar disorder or anything alike, get connected to an LMHP today through CertaPet! Simply begin by taking our easy online screening process and we will connect you with one of our own LMHP, so you too can experience the benefits of an emotional support dog.