Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Corpus Christi

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corpus christi texas skylineIf you’re looking to get an emotional support animal in Corpus Christi, Texas, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll round up everything you need to know about getting an ESA, from what protections you’re afforded under federal law, to where to take your support animal once you have one!

Emotional Support Animal in Corpus Christi, TX: Specific Protection

First up, let’s go over the legislation surrounding you and your emotional support animal in Corpus Christi, and how they can help you. In this section, we’ll go over the Air Carriers Access Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the various exceptions to these Acts.

Definition an Assistance Animal

Before going into more detail about specific laws, it’s important to go over what exactly an emotional support animal is—and isn’t.

Emotional support animals fall under the wider definition of “assistance animal,” which is an animal that offers health and well-being related assistance to people with medical issues. There are three main kinds, and the laws differ regarding them.

1. Service animal

Service animals are specially trained to people with a physical disability with specific tasks. Service dogs are the most common kind of service animal, due to their loyalty and trainability. Service animals are the most protected by law.

2. Emotional support animal (ESA)

Emotional support animals do not receive any official training. These animals help people with mental health issues or disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brain injuries, anxiety and depression.

ESAs can be any kind of domesticated animal. Some laws cover ESAs, but not all of them—more on that below.

Not Assistance Animal: Therapy animals

A therapy animal could be described as a professional cuddler. These animals (most commonly dogs) can be seen doing some professional cuddling with people in places like the children’s hospital, old folks home, or even university campus.

A cuddle from a therapy dog helps to reduce stress and aid healing. Therapy animals are not covered by any of the following laws, and are instead treated as regular pets.

emotional support dog at airport in texas

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) applies both to service dogs and emotional support animals. The aim of the ACAA is to protect people with disabilities from discrimination while flying. Under this Act, people with a service dog or emotional support animal may bring it into the cabin with them free of charge, even if the airline does not usually allow pets.

Due to certain individuals attempting to pass their pets off as ESAs in order to have them travel for free, more and more airlines now require additional documentation from passengers traveling with an emotional support animal (not a service animal).

This includes an ESA letter, which we go into more detail on below, and possibly veterinary certificates showing vaccination records. Make sure to check with your airline well in advance of flying to see what documentation you will need.

Employment Laws

People with disabilities are protected in their place of work by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA states that employers make “reasonable accommodation” to allow service dogs in the workplace.

Emotional support animals are not covered by the ADA, so if you’re hoping to bring an ESA with you to work, you will need to agree this with your employer on a case-by-case basis. They may require an ESA letter and a guarantee that your ESA is able to behave properly in public.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects people with disabilities in rented accommodation. It covers both service animals and emotional support animals, which are both permitted in rented housing, even where pets are not allowed.

They are also exempt from paying “pet rent”. Landlords or housing providers may require an ESA letter.

ESA Campus Housing

The FHA also covers on-campus housing in colleges and universities, so students may bring their service animal or emotional support animal with them. Again, an ESA letter will be required.

Exceptions to the Rules

All rules have exceptions, and the ones we’ve covered here are no different. Some disability laws (notably the Americans with Disabilities Act) only cover service animals and do not cover ESAs at all.

That means that ESAs are not guaranteed entry to private businesses or public accommodations where pets are not otherwise permitted. Where the laws do cover emotional support animals, businesses may refuse an ESA where there is no ESA letter, or if the animal is unclean, dangerous, or disruptive.

ESA owner and emotional support animal in corpus christi apartment

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

Texas put a new law in place in 2017 stating that the misrepresentation of any kind of assistance animal would result in a fine of up to $300, and up to 30 hours of community service. Unlike other states, it does not usually result in a jail sentence, suspended sentence, or life in prison.

4 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. An emotional support animal is just as much responsibility as a pet, and just as expensive. Before getting an emotional support animal, make sure you are willing to look after it, and that you can afford all of the necessities, such as food, veterinary care, and dog daycare.
  2. An ESA letter is the only acceptable official document relating to emotional support animals, and this in fact document’s the owner’s need for an ESA, not the animal’s credentials.
  3. Emotional support animals are not required to wear vests, harnesses, or anything else that identifies them as an ESA. Many owners find it useful to purchase one though, in order to avoid lengthy explanations. Remember, a harness or vest alone does not count as “proof” that the animal is an ESA.
  4. Unlike service dogs, animals do not need special training to act as ESAs. However, the animals must be both a legal pet (not a restricted breed of exotic animal, for example), and suitably trained to behave in public.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Corpus Christi, TX: CertaPet’s Simple 5 Min Process

Now you’ve read up on all the info, the next step to getting an emotional support animal in Corpus Christi is to get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.

CertaPet has simplified this process to make it as stress-free as possible!

1. Read up on everything you need to know about getting an emotional support animal in Corpus Christi, or anywhere else.

2. Take the free, 5-minute CertaPet pre-screening process to see if you’re eligible for an emotional support animal.

3. If you qualify for an emotional support animal, CertaPet will put you in contact with a licensed mental health professional in your state. After a quick consultation, you could have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hours!

What is an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is an official document that proves the patient’s need for an ESA. To be valid, it must be less than a year old, and written on letterhead paper or a prescription pad from a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional. The ESA letter must state the following:

  • That you have a diagnosed mental health condition or mental health-related disability
  • Your emotional support animal is necessary for your mental health or treatment
  • The type of animal
  • That the issuer of the letter is a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional, and that you are under their treatment or care for a mental health disability
  • The issuer’s license number, type of license, the license issue date, and the state or jurisdiction where it was licensed.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Any well behaved domesticated animal can become an ESA, so we recommend visiting an animal shelter such as the Gulf Coast Humane Society, where many South Texas families has found their ideal pet.

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal

Once you have found your ideal ESA, you will want to go places together!

Although, as we mentioned above, ESAs are not covered by the ADA, meaning they are not guaranteed access to private businesses, there are plenty of dog-friendly spots to take your emotional support animal in Corpus Christi.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Treat your emotional support dog to some off-lead fun at one of Corpus Christi’s dog-friendly beaches in the bay area, such as

  • Mustang Island State Park
  • South Padre National Seashore.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

If all the fresh air and running around has made you hungry, these Corpus Christi restaurants and bars welcome dogs:

  • Tavern on the Bay at Harrison’s Landing,
  • Scuttlebutt’s Bar and Restuarant,
  • Pier 99.

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

If you’re fancying a seaside getaway with your ESA, you’re in luck, because Corpus Christi has some great dog-friendly hotels and resorts, including

  • V Boutique Hotel,
  • Knights Inn by the Beach, and
  • Hotel Corpus Christi Bayfront.

Events

Keep an eye out for dog-themed events in and around Corpus Christi, as these can be a great way to meet other dog owners and socialize your pup.

ESAs in Corpus Christi: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your City Today!

If you’re looking to get an emotional support animal in Corpus Christi, TX, the most important step is to get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional in your state. CertaPet takes the hassle out of this process, meaning you could get your ESA letter in as little as 48 hours!

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