For any person living with an emotional or psychological condition, it’s tough, there’s no doubt about it. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll likely already know the comfort and companionship animals can bring into our lives. But what exactly is an emotional support animal and how can you become a legal ESA owner in a city in the U.S.? Learn what you need to know about getting an emotional support animal in Cincinnati, Ohio below.
Emotional Support Animal in Cincinnati: Specific Protection
There are two United States federal laws that offer specific protection to people with emotional support animals (ESA). These are the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). These laws give people who qualify for ESAs the right to have their animal in rental accommodation and on commercial flights.
The other federal law to be aware of is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA). This law, along with the local Ohio Administrative Code and Ohio Revised Code legislature, gives other protections for people with service animals who support people with a disability in a wider range of public accommodation and employment situations.
Definition an Assistance Animal
The broad term of assistance animal often gets used for animals that may assist people in different ways. It is important to understand the specific definitions of these types of animals and the disability they support. Ohio law and the Ohio Revised Code use the term animal assistant to refer to animals called service animals in federal legislation, which can be confusing. So, what’s the difference?
- Service Animal: This term applies to assistance animals that have been trained to do specific tasks for people with a disability. The most commonly known are service dogs. You may see a guide dog working with someone with a visual or hearing impairment to help with their daily tasks or mobility. Psychiatric service dogs are also in this category. They are trained to recognize and respond to specific symptoms. Handlers of service animals are allowed their animals in more public places, although current Ohio legislation does place some limitations on psychiatric animals.
- Emotional Support Animal: This type of animal provides emotional support and comfort to someone with a psychological or emotional condition. The animal needs no specific training, but the owner must be assessed by a suitably qualified mental health professional. Illnesses or disabilities that may benefit from the therapy of an emotional support animal include conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and so forth.
- Therapy Animal: These are the animals you might find in assisted-living facilities for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. In this setting, an animal such as a therapy dog is available for multiple people to benefit from. Even though these animals are involved in providing therapy to people, for legal purposes, they aren’t considered either an assistance animal or a service animal.
How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Cincinnati: CertaPet’s Simple 5 Min Process
The service we offer at Certapet is very simple to follow if you are looking at getting an emotional support animal in Cincinnati.
- First, get started with our free online pre-screening. This initial screening takes around 5 minutes. It involves questions for you to answer to determine whether you may possibly qualify for an ESA. There is no obligation to continue at this stage, the next step begins the formal process.
- If your answers indicate you may qualify for an ESA and you wish to proceed, we will connect you with a licensed mental health professional local to you in Hamilton County, Ohio. This person will liaise with you directly for your assessment. Once confirmed, we issue ESA letters within 48 business hours.
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
If you wish to take your emotional support animal on a commercial flight, there are provisions under the Air Carrier Access Act that protect your right to do so. You will usually need to give the airline at least 48 hours’ notice of your wish to travel with an ESA. Airlines can also ask for confirmation that you meet the criteria for having an emotional support with you during travel by requesting a copy of your emotional support animal letter.
There are no current federal or state employment laws that provide direct support to having an emotional support animal in your workplace in Ohio. Some employers, however, are supportive of this on a regular or occasional basis. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) does support people with service animals, and in general, people with disabilities from any form of discrimination related to their disability.
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
People living in or looking for rented residential accommodation have their right to live with an emotional support animal in Cincinnati protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
The FHA requires that a landlord or property manager must make “reasonable accommodation” for people with an emotional support animal. This means that they cannot refuse or charge someone extra fees because they have an ESA. They may ask you to provide evidence that you qualify for an ESA and provide a copy of your emotional support animal letter.
ESA Campus Housing
The Fair Housing Act also covers students who live in campus housing. All academic institutions do have their own policies and procedures regarding emotional support animals on campus and their own application procedures that need to be followed.
Exception to the Rules
There are also exceptions to the rules! There are circumstances where landlord’s rights mean they can refuse a request to have an ESA under the FHA. There are also valid reasons why many airline policies restrict ESAs based on breed or species.
Also, be aware that as the handler of an emotional support animal you are not exempt from any laws around dog licensing, control of your animal, and damage caused by your animal.
Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal
There can also be financial penalties for presenting a fake service animal or faking a condition to get an emotional support animal. Many states have introduced laws that make it a fraudulent crime to misrepresent service animals or an assistance animal, or are in the process of doing so.
5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
- There are federal laws in the United States that protect people’s rights to have an emotional support animal in rental accommodation and on flights. There are also exceptions to the rules!
- To be eligible for an emotional support animal, a person must have a condition that may benefit from having a support animal. This could be an emotional or psychological condition or disorder related to stress, depression, anxiety, or similar.
- Only a qualified mental health professional in your State can undertake the assessment and determine whether an individual could benefit from an ESA. This person issues the ESA letter that confirms the person’s eligibility.
- An emotional support animal in Cincinnati, as well as anywhere else, do not receive any special training or certification. The assistance they provide is through their presence. Most people have an emotional support dog or emotional support cat, but some have other types of animals.
- There are differences in types of assistance animals. An emotional support animal is not the same as a service animal trained to perform tasks related to people with disabilities.
What is an ESA Letter?
The ESA letter, or emotional support animal letter, is the document that confirms a person qualifies for an ESA. This is the document that a property manager or airline may request a copy of if you wish to have your emotional support animal with you. Information on an ESA letter includes:
- A statement to say you have a psychological or emotional condition recognized in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
- Confirmation you need your emotional support animal with you in your residential accommodation, and/or during air travel and at your destination.
- Verification a licensed mental health professional in the State of Ohio completed the assessment.
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
This is the fun part! It probably goes without saying to look for an emotional support animal in Cincinnati that is right for you and your personality. After all, some people have more of an affinity with dogs, others with cats.
There are many potential pet partners at rescue groups and non-profit organizations in Ohio such as the humane society. Or look for a reputable breeder of your favorite breed.
Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal
Most people with dogs, whether emotional support dogs or pet dogs love the ability to go places with their pup. Here are some places in Cincinnati where you and your pooch are welcome!
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
- Otto Armleder Dog Park
- Washington Park Dog Park
Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars
- Wurst Bar in the Square
- A Tavola
- Coffee Emporium
Resorts, Fitness and Spas
- Hyatt Regency Cincinnati
- Residence Inn Cincinnati Downtown/The Phelps
- Millennium Hotel Cincinnati
- DogFest Walk ‘n Roll Cincinnati
ESAs in Cincinnati: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!
Here at Certapet, part of the service we offer is to connect you with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) in Ohio. The first step to getting an emotional support animal in Cincinnati is our free five-minute pre-screening process.