Considering getting an emotional support animal in Connecticut?
Across the country, millions of people experience some type of mental health disorder. Though the overall climate around mental health has improved greatly in the last decade, those who struggle with non-visible issues continue to experience difficulty. A person with disabilities can be aided by the presence of a pet that helps ease some of the symptoms of that mental distress. Under certain conditions, these pets become more than the normal cat or dog and are truly emotional support animals, and have protection under U.S. law.
Emotional Support Animal in Connecticut: Specific Protection
United States law provides protection for Americans with disabilities against discrimination, including protection for animals that provide therapeutic benefits for that disability. The benefits of these animals for a person with disabilities could include stress reduction, animal-assisted therapy, or reduced depression.
The benefits of the human-animal bond are endless. There are a number of laws specifically covering emotional support animals in regard to housing and air travel. These laws differ slightly from those protecting service animals.
Definition of Assistance Animal
An assistance animal is a companion animal that provides some type of benefit to a person with a disability, be it physically or emotionally. This benefit must be related to the person’s disability.
Some examples of qualifying assistance animals include a cat that eases a veterans panic attacks from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a dog that improves her agoraphobic owner’s social skills, or a pot-bellied pig that reduces the intensity of her owner’s depression.
How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Connecticut: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process
Using CertaPet, you can receive your ESA letter within two business days, and the process is simple and efficient. Just complete their pre-screening and get connected with a licensed mental health professional. Once you are approved, your letter will be mailed out. It’s as simple as 1… 2… 3!
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) protects a person and their emotional support animals or service animals from discrimination, as long as they meet certain qualifications. Under the ACAA, a person traveling with an emotional support animal must have an “emotional support animal letter” from a mental health professional that approves the need for the passenger to have that animal during travel or at their destination.
As long as this is provided, with all the required information in the letter, the airline cannot legally restrict your access to the flight or ask questions about your disability.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits discrimination in the workplace and protects your right to an emotional support dog or service animal. Employers are required by law to attempt reasonable accommodation of your needs, including the presence of an emotional support animal.
This does not require them to allow your ESA at work, but it does require them to attempt to make accommodations. For example, if a co-worker is allergic to dogs, your employer must attempt to make the situation work and may move one worker’s cubicle to the other side of the office.
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination against a person with disabilities of any kind (it also covers a wide range of potential discrimination). This act requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations to a person in regards to their disability, including allowing service dogs or emotional support animals.
ESA Campus Housing
The FHA also covers emotional support animals on college campuses, but only if the college receives federal financial support. A person’s on-campus housing, along with any other housing situation, is required to provide reasonable accommodation for a disability under anti-discrimination laws. This, of course, includes accommodation for service dogs or emotional support animals.
Colleges are not, however, required to allow an emotional support animal in any other public space that is not pet-friendly.
Exception to Rules
Animals that are not fully housebroken are allowed to be restricted from access to public spaces, and the person with the disability is responsible for any damage their dog may cause.
Emotional support animals, unlike service dogs, are not allowed anywhere their owner goes. They are protected under the FHA in residences and the ACAA during air travel. Public transportation is not required to admit emotional support animals, nor restaurants, hotels, or non-pet-friendly businesses.
Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal
If you are thinking of getting an emotional support animal in Connecticut, you may be concerned about the repercussions if you claim your pet as an “emotional support animal” before getting the required ESA letter.
Unlike California, New Jersey, Maine, and many other states, Connecticut does not have a law against falsely claiming a dog as an emotional support animal. However, if you are found, your rights to that animal cease.
3 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
Considering getting an emotional support animal in Connecticut? The following three facts will help you navigate the process properly, avoid getting scammed, and better understand ESAs!
- There is No “Certification” for an Emotional Support Animal: Many websites cater to those attempting to certify their emotional support animal when in reality you must have a letter stating your personal need for psychiatric service animals from a mental health professional and a “certificate” or “registry” will get you nowhere.
- An Emotional Support Animal is NOT a Service Dog: While an emotional support animal provides therapeutic benefits to a person with a disability simply because of their presence, a service animal must be trained to do a specific behavior that aids in the person’s disability. There are also psychiatric service dogs, which are trained to assist a person’s mental health disabilities.
- Your Dog Will Need Training, But Not Legally: In Connecticut, you are not required to have specific training or certification for an emotional support animal, just an ESA letter.
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
When getting an emotional support animal in Connecticut, it is important to know where to search for a suitable companion. Not all dogs will make perfect emotional support animals, and you should choose a dog that is even-tempered, and train the dog well. You can choose a dog from a breeder, or a rescue, but ensure they are healthy and vaccinated.
When looking for a reputable breeder, ensure you can visit the location that the animals are housed in. Choose breeders that have healthy dogs, in limited numbers and breed for the love of the dogs rather than for profit.
Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal
Because your emotional support animal does not receive the same benefits as service dogs or therapy animals do, you will have to be familiar with pet-friendly locations. Before getting an emotional animal in Connecticut you should see what pet-friendly establishments there are in your area.
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
Some popular off-leash parks for your dog in Connecticut are
- Campo Beach Off-Leash Dog Area in Westport
- Southbury Dog Park in Southbury
- Grass Island Dog Park in Greenwich
- Rowayton Dog Park in Rowayton.
Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars
Some popular pet-friendly restaurants and bars in Connecticut are:
- Shake Shack in Westport
- Seaview Snack Bar in Mystic
- The Elbow Room in West Hartford
- Stowe’s Seafood in West Haven
- The Place in Guilford, and
- Flipside Burgers and Bar in Fairfield.
Resorts, Fitness, and Spas
Some popular pet-friendly resorts, fitness activities, and spas in Connecticut are:
- The Hampton Inn & Suites in Mystic
- Saybrook Point Inn and Spa in Old Saybrook
- Savin Rock West Haven Boardwalk in West Haven
- Pequannock Valley Greenway in Trumbull.
The popular “Strutt Your Mutt” occurs annually in Newtown and is held in 2018 on May 19th. The event includes a 2k, music, food, games, doggy pageant, contests, and gift baskets.
ESAs in Connecticut: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!
To get in touch with a licensed mental health professional to apply for your ESA letter, simply take the easy five-minute screening. The process is fast, simple, and can get you connected with an LMHP quickly, so what are you waiting for?
See if you and your pet qualify for an ESA letter. Every screening is assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine the best LMHP for you in your state. If you have been thinking of getting an emotional support animal in Connecticut lately, let us know and we’ll be sure to answer any and all your questions!