Do you live in Bakersfield, California and have an emotional and/or mental disability? If you do, and you are looking into having an emotional support animal, read on. We have summarized below some of the relevant law that applies to ESAs. We also outline the first steps to take in getting an emotional support animal in Bakersfield, California.
Emotional Support Animal in Bakersfield, California: Specific protection
Both State and Federal legislation offers protection for getting an emotional support animal in Bakersfield, California.
- Federal Legislation: Two pieces of federal law offer you protection for having an ESA. These are the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The FHA protects your rights as a tenant, while the Air Carrier Access Act covers air travel. A third piece of federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is more relevant to people with service animals. This Act does not apply to people with their ESAs. ESAs are not legally considered or trained as service animals. For more detail on this, see the definitions below.
- State Legislation: Three pieces of Californian State legislation are relevant. These are the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the California Disabled Persons Act (CDPA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). These laws offer protection if you wish to request to have an emotional support animal in residential accommodation or a workplace.
- Dog Licenses: In California, a dog license must be obtained for all dogs over three months. Dog licenses help with finding the owners of lost dogs. They are issued on proof that your dog has received a rabies vaccination. The rabies vaccine protects both your pet and the wider community from this disease.
Definition of Assistance Animal
You will often hear the term assistance animal used to describe various types of animals. However, there are distinctions between service and support or assistance animals. In particular, this relates to how legislation is applied.
- Emotional Support Animals: An emotional support animal is one that provides therapeutic value to their owner, often a dog or a cat. ESAs receive no specific training to assist humans. Their purpose is to offer companionship and comfort. To be eligible for an ESA, the owner must have been assessed by a suitably qualified health professional. This is to ascertain the person has an emotional or psychological condition that would benefit from the company offered by an animal.
- Service Animals: A service animal has been individually trained to perform specific tasks for a person with a disability. Service dogs may fetch items, offer protection and recognized symptoms, rescue, or assist with a person’s mobility. A service animal must perform the specific tasks that the person with a disability needs assistance with.
- Therapy Animals: Shared animals such as therapy dogs or cats in a communal setting such as a care facility or rehabilitation are not considered assistance animals or service dogs. This is because they are not, like a service dog or ESA, owned by one individual person.
How to get an Emotional Support Animal in the Bakersfield, California
Are you ready to look into getting an emotional support animal in Bakersfield a bit further?
Here at Certapet, we offer a free online pre-screening. This pre-screening process takes about five minutes. If your results show you may qualify for an ESA, we can then connect you with a licensed mental health professional in your area for a full assessment.
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
Under the Air Carrier Access Act a person who qualifies for an emotional support animal can request to have their ESA travel with them on flights. There are requirements to meet, however! These include:
- Notifying the airline: The airline must be notified at least 48 hours in advance to say that you wish to travel with your ESA.
- Supplying any documentation requested: This will include an ESA letter confirming your disability and need for an ESA. It must be dated no more than 12 months prior to travel. Expect airlines to ask for details of your animal, how you will contain, carry, and manage them on the flight. Some airlines also ask for health certification from your vet. They may also ask for evidence of dog training.
- Adhering to the airlines animal and pet policies: Many airlines have introduced restrictions on certain types of animals and breeds. This is to ensure the health and safety of all passengers and animals during air travel.
The American’s With Disabilities Act requires employers to allow people with trained service animals to have their animal at work. For example, a service dog that works as a trained guide dog. The ADA does not apply to ESAs.
However, under California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act, employers do have to consider requests from an employee to have an emotional support animal at work. The employer can request supporting documentation of your disability.
They can also require that the emotional support animal be odor free, toilet trained, and not be a safety risk for any other people at their workplace.
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
An emotional support animal in Bakersfield will be protected under the federal Fair Housing Act.
Tenants’ rights to have an emotional support animal are protected under both the federal Fair Housing Act and California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act. Landlords and property owners must make “reasonable accommodation” for any such request. This means if you have an ESA a landlord cannot refuse your application on the basis of your animal.
A landlord can refuse a request if an animal would pose a health and safety risk to others, or cause them hardship.
A landlord may not charge you any animal “bond” or fee in advance. They can ask for proof of your need for an ESA. They will also require you to be responsible for the costs of any damage caused by your animal.
ESA Campus Housing
The FHA and FEHA both apply to campus dormitories and accommodation. If you are applying to live in campus housing check the specific policies, regulations, and disability services of your institution.
Most campuses consider applications for ESAs on campus on a case-by-case basis.
Exception to Rules
There are exceptions to the rules!
Be aware of the conditions under which an airline, residential accommodation or workplace provider may refuse an emotional support animal. These include if an animal is dangerous, or poses a safety risk to others.
Many airlines also have restrictions on certain breeds, such as brachycephalic or snub-nosed pets. This is because these animals can suffer breathing problems in pressured cabins.
As the owner of an ESA, you are not exempt from any other legislation that protects animals from potential neglect or abuse. The owner of any animal that is being mistreated can be reported to animal control or animal services.
Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal
Don’t do it! Misrepresentation of a service or assistance animal is fraud under the Penal Code of the State of California.
Penalties include probation, imprisonment for a period of up to six months, or a fine of up to $1,000. It also makes it harder for people with a genuine need.
3 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
- Only a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) can issue a certification that you qualify for an ESA. These people are qualified to establish whether a person’s emotional or psychological wellbeing may benefit from an ESA.
- Emotional support animals are not allowed in all the same public places as service animals. In California, there is protection for having ESAs in rented residential accommodation, on air travel, and at work. However, they are not allowed in other public places such as restaurants and malls.
- Your landlord, airline, or workplace may request copies of the LMHP certified documentation. They need this paperwork – unlike a psychic medium, they will ask for some physical evidence to support your application!
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
If you’re looking to find an ESA you want to find the pet that is going to be the right fit for you. You might already have a particular breed in mind, in which case try reputable breeders or clubs.
A non-profit organization, such as rescue and homeless shelters for animals, and the humane society are also awesome places to find an ESA. Most offer low-cost spay and neuter services, low-cost microchipping, and a vaccination clinic with low-cost vaccinations.
These all help with problems of pet overpopulation, and finding a home for an abandoned or lost pet.
Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal in Bakersfield
Looking for some pet-friendly places to take your emotional support animal in Bakersfield? The Bakersfield places below are all known to be dog-friendly:
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
- Centennial Dog Park
- San Lauren Community Park
- University Dog Park
Dog-friendly restaurants and bars
- Moo Creamery
- Crest Bar and Grill
- Johnny Garlics
Resorts, fitness, and spas
- Residence Inn by Marriott Bakersfield
- La Quinta Inn & Suites Bakersfield North
- Best Western Heritage Inn and Plus Hill House
ESAs in Bakersfield, California: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!
We can help you get connected with an LMHP in your area today! Just complete the free, 5-minute pre-screening. If your results show you may qualify for an ESA, we will then connect you with a licensed mental health professional to establish whether an ESA is right for you.
Do you have questions about getting an emotional support animal in Bakersfield? Let us know in the comments below!