June 11, 2019

Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Canada

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emotional support dog canada flagEmotional support animals are the perfect companion for people who suffer from mental illnesses. Not only are they great to cuddle with during the long cold Canada winters, but they’re also a comforting presence! Getting an emotional support animal in Canada has plenty of advantages. Whether you live in a big city like Toronto or in a small town such as Jasper, becoming an ESA owner might be just what you need…

An emotional support animal isn’t like every other pet. They help people with mental disabilities recover on their path to mental wellness once more. ESAs are true companions who will quickly become your new best friend. But how do you get an emotional support animal in Canada? Keep reading to find out!

Disclaimer: CertaPet’s LMHPs do not issue ESA letters for Canadians at this time, but later in 2019, we will have qualified therapists in multiple Canadian provinces who specialize in treatment planning and emotional support animals.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal: Canada Way

Getting a therapeutic cuddle buddy is one of the best decisions you could make. The biggest upside is that an emotional support animal will help you on your road to recovery. They’re loving and intuitive animals who can bond with their owners really well and quickly. Having an emotional support animal in Canada is helping thousands of people and their mental health already!

But the advantages of having an ESA are not limited to this nurturing side. Emotional support animals and their owners are protected by both federal and local Canadian laws. This will allow you two to live and travel by plane together.

Disclaimer: CertaPet’s LMHPs do not issue ESA letters for Canadians at this time, but later in 2019, we will have qualified therapists in multiple Canadian provinces who specialize in treatment planning and emotional support animals.

What is an Emotional Support Letter: Canada Edition?

An emotional support letter is an official proof that your companion is a real ESA. This means that they are not your pet, and so are protected by Canadian laws. Emotional support letters are used to separate pets being passed off as ESAs from actual ESAs.

But how can you get it? Writing an emotional support letter in Canada isn’t something you, the ESA owner, can do. You have to ask a licensed mental health professional who can practice in your province to write it for you. Your therapist will assess your mental state and then write the letter if they think you can benefit from having an ESA.

This letter surely opens a lot of doors for you. Therefore, it’s important to get yours from a legitimate professional and to always have it on you!

Canada Emotional Support Laws That Protect Your ESA

There are some Canadian laws that protect emotional support animals — and they’re super important! There are both federal and province-based laws that concern ESAs, so it’s important for you to know them well.

Firstly, there are federal laws in place that let you fly with your ESA. The Canadian Transportation Agency grants you this right. It also forces all airlines to comply with the Air Transportation Regulations. No matter where you’re seated, your ESA will be accepted on board free of charge.

When it comes to housing, ESAs are, too, protected by laws. But these laws are not federal, they’re made by each of the provinces. Depending on where you live, there will be different nuances of housing laws. Laws that apply specifically to ESAs are still being created, so, for the time being, these are the ones enforced.

Always keep in mind that these rules will only protect you and your ESA if you have a valid emotional support letter. The person or agency that writes this letter to you has to be in good standing with the law. This means that they have to comply with the Canada Health Act. CertaPet is happy to say that it does, indeed, comply with this act and can issue you your ESA letter!

emotional support animal canada glasses

Exception to Rules

The housing and travel laws might not apply to you in certain situations. If your ESA acts unruly and puts other people in danger, then the laws will not apply to them anymore. If they’re too large to be carried on a plane, they will also be denied boarding and may have to be placed in cargo. This, however, will also be free of charge.

Of course, if you fail to show your emotional support letter, the laws won’t apply to your ESA either.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Emotional Support Animal

Stories of people passing off a pet as an emotional support animal aren’t uncommon, sadly. Some people try to abuse the law for their own gains. This harms those who actually do need an ESA to live a good life. Because of this, the judicial system punishes those who misrepresent emotional support animals and service animals.

In the United States, for example, you can be heavily fined and even wind up in jail if you misrepresent an ESA. We’re sure you don’t want to risk this happening to you! Plus, getting an emotional support animal in Canada isn’t as hard as you think it is. It all starts with a simple screening test CertaPet offers!

The 7 Vital Facts You Must Know Before Becoming an ESA Owner in the Great White North

Having an emotional support animal in Canada is great. You get the emotional benefits of having one of these companions with you and are protected by the law. What more could you ask for? It’s very important to know what laws apply to you in your province. And it’s equally as important to know these seven vital facts!

Legally speaking, an emotional support animal and a pet are not the same things. In Canada, ESAs are protected by local and federal laws, while pets are not.

An emotional support animal, unlike a service one, doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog. Cats, for example, are a very famous pick and make great ESAs!

Can you Register Emotional Support Animal Canada style?

Only licensed mental health professionals can issue emotional support letters. Beware of untrustworthy websites selling fake certificates and requiring you to register your ESA! They scam people for their money and these supposed letters do not have any legal value (and so, won’t hold up in court).

Air travel laws are federal and apply to every airline company operating in Canadian soil. Thanks to this, you will be allowed to fly anywhere in Canada with your cuddle buddy. But make sure you read up on the restrictions each airline has.

International travel and domestic travel don’t work the same way though. If you’re flying to a foreign country, you need to read up local laws regarding quarantine for animals. Always contact your airline for more information (and read our information down below!)

Housing laws are drafted and enforced by each province. If you’re living in Ontario, you will need to learn about Ontario’s ESA policies. If you’re living in British Columbia, you’ll need to understand the British Columbia laws — and so on.

Always keep in mind that service animals and emotional service animals are not the same. Some laws apply only to service animals and not to ESAs. You should fully understand what laws protect your emotional support animal in Canada before deciding to get one.

Traveling with Your ESA: Canadian Transportation Agency Law

Traveling by plane with your emotional support animal is no longer something impossible. The Canadian Transportation Agency makes it possible for ESAs to travel with their owners: both on domestic and international flights.

Furthermore, the Air Transportation Regulations and the Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities make sure your rights as an ESA owner are being respected.

The most important thing to know about this law is that it only applies to you if you have a valid emotional support letter. You will need to show the airline this letter as proof of your legal status. You will also need to give them at least a 48-hour warning that you’ll be bringing an ESA to travel with you.

air canada emotional support animal in canada airport
Secondly, you must learn if the airline you’re flying with has any other requests. Some airlines only ask for the emotional support letter, while others also request vet forms and other paperwork.

Thirdly, check with the airline if they have enough space on the aircraft to comfortably accommodate your ESA. Some carriers, such as WestJet let you have your ESA on your lap (if they’re smaller than a two-year-old child). Others, however, require that your ESA travels in an appropriately sized carrier.

WestJet and Air Canada Emotional Support Animal: From Airports to Beyond!

Lastly, if you’re flying internationally, you need to keep a few things in mind. There are additional restrictions and laws that apply to your ESA outside of Canada. Before your trip, make sure the country you’re flying to accepts foreign animals into its borders. There might be quarantine laws you have to obey, which could ruin your trip if you weren’t expecting them!

Want to Live With Your Emotional Support Dog?

Luckily, you may be able to live with your emotional support animal in Canada. Different laws apply to each province. But they all have one thing in common: they all shelter people with mental disabilities from discrimination. This can also be interpreted to apply to housing, and there are already hundreds of people living with their ESAs.

If you live in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, or Yukon, you are protected by the Human Rights Act. Section 5 of this act protect mentally ill people from being discriminated against when renting commercial and dwelling units. This applies even to buildings that have a no-pets policy!

Is British Columbia your home? If so, you and your ESA are protected by the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act. This piece of legislation doesn’t specifically apply to emotional support dogs. However, the arguments made can be used to justify the presence of your ESA.

Manitoba residents can refer to the Human Rights Code and to the Service Animals Protection Act for help. These two laws are the ones enforced in this province. They protect all people with mental disabilities from being discriminated against when it comes to housing.

If you call Ontario your home, the Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Human Rights Code are the ones to look up to. These acts have all the legal information you need to be aware of.

The Service Animals Act is the law you need to know if you live in Alberta. It, too, doesn’t say anything in particular about ESAs but the arguments and base for legal defense are the same as for service animals.

If you’re living in Quebec, then look at these two laws. First, the “Act to secure handicapped persons in the exercise of their rights with a view to achieving social, school and workplace integration.” Second, the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They protect you when looking for a place to rent.

Lastly, if Saskatchewan is your home, look no further than the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. It has every piece of legal information you’ll need to defend yourself when looking for housing with your ESA!

couple happy by emotional support animal canada laws and living with esa

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Since an emotional support animal does not need to be trained, you have the freedom to choose whatever animal you want. As long as you choose an animal and breed that is recognized as an ESA, you will be fine.

If you have a pet at home, they could become your new ESA. In reality, the only requirement for an ESA is that they share a bond with you and can comfort you well. You’ll need their company and cuddles during the long and harsh Canadian winters!

If you don’t already have a pet, consider going to a local rescue or shelter. There are thousands of dogs and cats out there in need of good homes. By choosing a rescued animal, you’ll be bettering their lives just as much as they’ll be bettering yours…

ESAs in Canada: How to Get Connected With an LMHP in Your Province Today!

Gone are the days when you needed to look for a licensed mental health professional for hours on the phone book. CertaPet now does all that boring work for you. Our team of licensed mental health professionals is more than qualified to issue your emotional support letter. With it, you’ll have access to all the privileges we mentioned before!

Disclaimer: CertaPet’s LMHPs do not issue ESA letters for Canadians at this time, but later in 2019, we will have qualified therapists in multiple Canadian provinces who specialize in treatment planning and emotional support animals.

Common Questions on Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Canada

What are the emotional support animal Canada laws?

Can I fly with my emotional support animal in Canada airports?

Could my ESA become my flatmate?

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