Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Arkansas

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: February 14, 2024

When getting an Emotional Support Animal in Arkansas, it’s important to be aware of your legal rights (and in some cases the lack of them). Throughout the article, you’ll learn the ins and outs on how to get an emotional support animal in Arkansas, the two vital laws to know, and of course, places you can take them!

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Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Arkansas

Studies show that animals lower blood pressure and reduce stress just by being present. When someone suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a mental health problem, the calming presence of an emotional support dog makes a huge difference.

In Arkansas, the law states that service dogs may accompany their owner in all public places. However, the law views an emotional support animal (ESA) differently to a service animal. For example, an ESA may accompany their owner on an air flight, but not to the theatre, whilst a service dog is allowed access to both.

Emotional Support Animal in Arkansas: Specific Protection

In the modern age prejudice against physical disability is much less than it used to be, however, attitudes to ‘unseen’ disability due to post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or depression have some way to catch up. This is also reflected in the legal status of Emotional Support Dogs and their right to access different places.

When getting an Emotional Support Animal in Arkansas, it’s important to be aware of your legal rights (and in some cases the lack of them).

Definition of Assistance Animal

In Arkansas, the definition of an ESA is a dog or other animal, which provides therapeutic benefits to a person with a mental or emotional disability. In contrast, Arkansas state law defines a service as one trained to do a task of benefit to the disabled person while ESAs are not specifically trained to do a task but there as a comfort to their emotionally/mentally disable owner.

However! Assistance animals are both! They are there to assist, and the definition applies to these two hard-working animals with a purpose!

In practical terms, this means a service dog may prevent someone from performing self-harm, guide a visually impaired person, or detect allergens for someone with a serious allergy.  However, for an emotional support animal, it is the dog’s presence (rather than a performed task) that is therapeutic.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Arkansas: CertaPet’s Simple 5 min Process

When you’re battling with PTSD or serious bereavement, the thought of finding someone who can authorize your ESA may seem overwhelmingly difficult. However, this isn’t the case with CertaPet‘s 5-minute application process. The pre-screening test removes all the uncertainty and can help match you to a local mental health care professional.

See if You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

This is an important area where having your dog recognized as an ESA makes a real difference to your rights. For example, when traveling by air, some airlines refuse to take animals in the cabin area. However, with a letter proving that yours is a legitimate ESA the airline is by law required to allow that dog to accompany you during the flight.

According to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), an airline cannot restrict emotional support animals from traveling in the main body of a plane. However, there are factors to bear in mind.

  • You are required to give the airline 48 hours advanced notice when traveling with an ESA.
  • Disruptive animals that bark or are aggressive, can be denied access on the grounds of being antisocial
  • The ESA letter must be valid and in date (renewed yearly)
  • For flights longer than 8 hours, the airline may request a letter saying the animal will not relieve itself

Work Laws

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) law granting assistance animals full access only applies to service dogs. As yet, an ESA does not have a right to accompany a person with a mental disability into the workplace.

However, some employers may look more leniently on your request when you have a letter from a mental health professional confirming that the dog is an ESA. Whilst there are no guarantees, being in possession of such a letter of authorization will strengthen your case.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

Housing is another crucial area where having a letter of confirming your dog is an ESA makes a vital difference. Without such proof, landlords are within their right to refuse to let accommodation to people with pets. However, this is not the case when the animal in question is a service dog, an assistance animal, or an emotional support dog.

If you excuse the pun the landlord is then required to make reasonable accommodation and accept tenants accompanied by an ESA.

ESA Campus Housing

There’s good news for students with a mental disability such as anxiety or depression, because a letter from a mental health professional stating that your dog is an emotional support animal, extends to your rights to have a dog on campus.

Exception to Rules

There are differences in the rules between service dogs and ESA. Whilst the former are allowed to accompany their owner into cinemas, theatres, restaurants and other public places, an ESA dog is not.

And, if they cause any harm or disruption (or if you neglect them in any way), you can be strip off of your rights to these two laws.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

A word of caution to those tempted to register a beloved pet as an Assistance Animal in order to avoid leaving them at home. Misrepresentation is considered a civil infarction which many states are cracking down on, and the offense is punishable by a fine. Many states are cracking down on fraudulent certifications with fines rising from $500 to $1,000 per infringement.

7 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. Only a certified mental health professional can write a letter testifying that your pet is an ESA
  2. Be aware of bogus sites that offer to ‘register’ or ‘certify’ an ESA. There is no such thing and the only recognized credential is a letter as in #1
  3. ESAs don’t have to be canine but can be a cat, rabbit, a pig, or even a miniature pony.
  4. You have a duty of care to the ESA to look after their need for exercise and mental stimulation
  5. ESA letters need to be renewed yearly
  6. An ESA is not a service dog
  7. Owning an ESA means airlines and landlords must make reasonable accommodation for your needs

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

The most important qualification for an ESA is that you bond with them and they are empathetic to you. With this in mind consider visiting a rescue shelter, where there are thousands of needy pets for whom giving a fur-ever home could be saving their life.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

Your ESA may not be allowed full access to public places, but that shouldn’t stop you taking them with you. Just be savvy about where you visit and look for dog-friendly destinations. Some suggestions in Arkansas include:

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

Local Flavor Cafe

Sassy’s Red House

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Murphy Memorial Dog Park

Hot Springs Bark Park

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

1886 Crescent Resort and Spa

Pond Mountain Resort and Lodges

Emotional Support Animal in Arkansas: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!

If you need the benefits of a letter confirming your dog as an ESA, then CertaPet is your next step. Simply fill in the pre-screening questionnaire and this will tell you if your pet qualifies. If the answer is “Yes” then we can put you in touch with a local mental health care professional to obtain the necessary letter of authorization. Easy as that!

Click Here to Get Started for Free

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