Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Baltimore

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emotional support animal baltimore skylineWith those who suffer from an emotional or mental disability, it’s good to know there is federal and state legislation that allow those with emotional support animals to have certain accommodations, such as flying or living with their pet. Baltimore is no different. Read on for more information about getting an emotional support animal in Baltimore, Maryland!

Emotional Support Animal in Baltimore, Maryland: Specific protection

In the US, there is protection under federal laws for you to have an emotional support animal with you in rental accommodation and during air travel. There is also legislation that protects you from discrimination if you have any kind of disability.

There is also sometimes confusion around types of assistance animals and the different types of protection for each, especially between an ESA and a service animal.

Definition of Assistance Animal

  • Emotional support animals are, as they sound, considered to give their owner some comfort and companionship that may help with emotional and psychological symptoms. ESAs receive no formal training to do their “job”, nor are they trained to do any specific tasks to help with their owner’s condition. Dogs and cats are the most popular, but other animal species can also be ESAs. It is an owner with a mental health condition or disability who is verified as needing an ESA.
  • Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for a person with a disability. Most people are familiar with seeing-eye guide dogs that help people with sight impairments. Psychiatric service dogs receive training to help owners recognize specific psychiatric symptoms.  Service dogs may also be trained to help with hearing and movement.  Because service animals are specially trained both to help people with doing specific tasks, and how to behave in public, they are allowed in more public places than emotional support animals and pets.
  • Therapy animals aren’t formally recognized as assistance animals. These are animals that are shared in group settings such as day programs, rehabilitation centers, and residential care facilities.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Baltimore, Maryland: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process

We offer a simple five-minute process to start your journey on having an emotional support animal in Baltimore. The steps involved are:

  • Complete our free online pre-screening. Our pre-screen is a short series of question that will establish whether you have a medical issue eligible for an emotional support animal.
  • Connection with a health professional in Baltimore. If your pre-screen results indicate you may be eligible for an emotional support animal, we will then connect you directly with a qualified person in Baltimore to complete your assessment and the documentation.

Our ESA letters for housing, travel or a combination of both are usually processed within 48 hours.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Anyone who keeps an eye on the news may be familiar with the confusion and misinformation around flying with an emotional support animal in Baltimore.

The good news is Baltimore-Washington International Airport is animal-friendly! They have four pet “relief” areas. At Baltimore-Washington International Aiport, there are two on either side of security checks to make sure your pet also has its own comfort stops before boarding!

emotional support animal baltimore airport

Nonetheless, the moral of any story that hits the headlines around flying with an emotional support animal is always check with the individual airline ahead of time on their policy and processes.

This goes for whether you are on a flight from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale or flight to Baltimore from South Florida or anywhere else. Just like you would check the regulations for carry-on luggage before you fly, you cannot wait until the flight boarding or you are at a security checkpoint to let the crew know that you have an ESA along with any carry-on luggage!

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACT) does have protection for people with an ESA to have the animal with them during a flight. Key points to know are:

  • Advance Notice: You must contact the individual airline at least 48 hours in advance to let them know you wish to fly with an ESA for your disability and to find out what their airline’s policies and procedures are.
  • ESA Documentation: Airlines will usually require evidence that you have personally been assessed as needing your ESA with you for your disability. This must be a document or signed by a licensed medical professional, dated no more than 12 months prior to travel.
  • Other Documentation: Air carriers may also ask for certification from a veterinarian that your animal is healthy so they know it won’t pose a danger or risk to other people on the flight.
  • Other Information: There may be other information and requirements with individual airlines. For health and safety reasons, some airlines flights have limitations on the types and size of animals that are allowed in-cabin. For example, rodents and large animals that cannot be restrained or controlled. Some airlines may require some animal sizes and species to be contained or transported in the cargo hold.

If you are looking to rent a car, always check the policy of the rental company. The ACA applies to an airlines flight, but not other forms of travel. A service dog is allowed, but many rental car companies may not permit ESAs in their vehicles.

Employment Laws

Your employer does not have to allow people with emotional support animals to have them with them when they are work under any employment law.

However, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employers cannot discriminate against anyone with any type of disability. If you think you would benefit from having your emotional support animal in your workplace, you can ask your employer, in the spirit of providing flexible work conditions they may allow you to do this.

Anyone with a service animal, such as a trained guide dog, must be allowed to have their animal in their workplace.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

If you are a tenant in a property or looking for rental accommodation, landlords and property owners cannot refuse you outright because you have an emotional support animal to help with a disability. However, make sure you look into the exceptions to rules that under the separate heading below and have the documentation needed.

The law that applies to living accommodation is the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Under the FHA, landlords and property owners have to provide “reasonable accommodation” for someone with an emotional support animal for a disability. Even if they do not normally allow pets, they cannot refuse someone on the basis they have an emotional support pet.

They also cannot charge you any advance fees or request deposits in case your emotional support animal causes any damage.

A landlord or property owner can ask for copies of your ESA documentation, to confirm you have a condition that benefits from your emotional support animal. If your emotional support animal does cause any actual damage, they can then ask you to pay for it.

emotional support animal in baltimore living in home

ESA Campus Housing

For college and university students living in on-campus residential housing, the Fair Housing Act also applies for students with an emotional support animal in Baltimore.

You will need to make an application to have your emotional support animal with you in any dorms residential halls. Most institutions have specific policies on where emotional support pets are allowed on campus, and that you take care of the animal’s needs.

Applications are usually assessed and approved on a case-by-case basis by each individual campus. So before you think of withdrawing from school, if you want to have an ESA in campus housing, check with school’s disability service office as they will be there to answer your questions on owning an emotional support animal at your specific school.

Exception to Rules

Yes indeed, while there is protection for people with their emotional support animals, there are also exceptions to the rules that you should be aware of as well!

  • If your emotional support animal in Baltimore may put others at risk in terms of potential injury, or other aspects of health and safety, then a landlord or an airline may have grounds to refuse.
  • If your emotional support animal is likely to cause a property or landowner any additional administrative costs for financial burden, they may have grounds to refuse.
  • If your emotional support animal does cause any damage or injury to property or people, you will responsible to pay that, not the airline or your landlord.

Always remember that an ESA is not a service animal and cannot be taken into the same kinds of public places that a service dog can unless that business has already stated they are pet or dog-friendly. Luckily, some are and we’ve listed a few in Baltimore below!

It is important that you understand the process and documentation needed to confirm you have been assessed by a health professional as having a disability and being eligible for an emotional support animal in Maryland.

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

Honest is always is the best policy, it is true! You will always need to refer to your assistance animal correctly, as an emotional support animal and not a service animal. You will also always need to have the appropriate paperwork signed by a mental health professional for any situations where you want to have your ESA with you that verifies your personal need for one.

Across the US, more and more States are bringing in new laws that have made it a punishable offense to try to pass off emotional support animals as service animals in public places or misinform others of your type of animal. Some states are also including penalties for anyone who misrepresents their own medical issues for the purpose of designating their pet as an ESA.

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. You do need to be assessed by a qualified medical health professional to confirm that you have an emotional or mental health condition that may be improved by an emotional support animal in Baltimore.
  2. There are many conditions that a health professional may consider warranting an emotional support animal in your life. This includes, but is not limited to, conditions such as anxiety, phobias, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  3. It is you that is assessed as being eligible to have an ESA. The emotional support animal you have does not need any special training or certification to say it is an ESA. Do note though that if you are thinking of a support dog you should be like all responsible dog owners, and commit to basic, and regular obedience training!
  4. The ESA documentation you receive after your assessment is used to support your legal rights to have an emotional support animal in rental accommodation and during air travel.
  5. Get to know the differences between the different types of assistance animals. Then you won’t inadvertently make the mistake of misrepresenting ESA as a service animal!

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Once you’ve decided you are ready, may your search for a suitable an emotional support animal in Baltimore begin!

  • Because there are no training requirements for an ESA, the choice is yours. You will most likely know the type of animal you feel most comfortable with. Some of us already know whether we are avid doggie lovers or curious cat people!
  • If you’re not sure, visit a few places that allow you to interact with different types of animal up for adoption or purchase. These may include animal shelters and rescue organizations, and pedigree breeders.
  • Find out what type of care you need to provide in return for the type of animal you choose. This includes what kind of food they eat and how much, how much exercise and social interaction they need and any ongoing medical costs for them.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

As promised above, there are pet and animal-friendly places around Baltimore where you may be able to have your emotional support animal with you when you are out. We’ve listed a few below that are open to people bringing along their dogs as a guest.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

  • Howards Park Dog Park
  • Cromwell Valley Park
  • Federal Hill Park

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

  • Hard Yacht Café
  • Bar Liquorice
  • Cinghiale

Resorts, fitness, and spas

  • Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys Baltimore
  • Residence Inn Baltimore Downtown Inner Harbour
  • Hotel Indigo, Baltimore

Events

  • DogFest Featuring Paws on Parade Walkathon (September)
  • Barcstoberfest – Patterson Park (October)

ESAs in Baltimore, Maryland: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!

You do need to be connected with a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) in Maryland to confirm your eligibility for having an emotional support animal in your life. We can facilitate this process through our connections with qualified therapists, counselors, clinical social workers in your state.

An emotional support animal in Baltimore is closer than you think…

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