An emotional support animal is a type of assistance animal that is mainly used to help those suffering from mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and even depression. If you plan on getting an emotional support animal in El Paso, Texas then it is crucial that you’re well-informed about the city laws, as well as the state laws.
Emotional Support Animal in El Paso: Specific protection
An emotional support animal is protected under two important federal laws—the federal Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. However, an emotional support animal may not be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act as ESAs are not considered service animals.
Definition of Assistance Animal
Now, you might be wondering, why an emotional support animal isn’t protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Well, today many people often find it quite difficult to differentiate between what is a service animal, therapy dog, psychiatric service dog, and emotional support animal.
Starting with service animals, it is important to remember that a service animal (most often a service dog) is a type of assistance animal that is trained to perform tasks. Now, service animals will undergo tremendous training during puppyhood to master certain skills that help people with disabilities.
For example, there may be a service dog trained to help those with diabetes self-management—if a person was to have elevated blood glucose, then their service dog would detect this change in blood chemistry and let their owners know.
Next, we have therapy dogs, a therapy dog is not an assistance animal as they don’t really help one specific individual. A therapy dog is often used to simply provide comfort to those in schools or in a hospital setting. For instance, what young child doesn’t love a sweet pooch to cuddle with! Children in hospitals may often be surprised by visits from a therapy dog just to cheer them up!
Psychiatric service dogs are often confused with emotional support animals. However, there is indeed a big difference between the two. A psychiatric service dog is often prescribed to those suffering from serious, debilitating mental illness. A veteran suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder may have a Psychiatric service dog that is trained to distract them when they have a PTSD episode.
So, how does an emotional support animal fit into this entire scenario?
Well, an emotional support animal in El Paso is considered an assistance animal whose main job is to better the emotional well-being of those suffering from mental and emotional illnesses such as loneliness, anxiety, and depression. An emotional support animal can be any kind of companion animal—dogs, cats, and even miniature horses.
Unlike service animals or psychiatric service animals, ESAs don’t require training to perform specific tasks—as they say—the human-animal bond itself is a powerful self-medication!
How to get an Emotional Support Animal in the El Paso: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process
Now, that you’re well aware of the laws that protect you and your ESA. You may be wondering, how can you get an emotional support animal in El Paso. CertaPet offers a simple and easy online service, where all you need to do is complete a 5-minute questionnaire that will evaluate your general mental health care.
Once the questionnaire is completed, and if you’re eligible, you will be connected with a licensed mental health professional. The licensed mental health professional will then further evaluate your mental illness and will then proceed to provide you with an ESA letter.
Your emotional support letter is all you need to provide when you’re either traveling or requesting reasonable accommodation! And you can have this letter in just 48-hours, once your licensed mental health professional signs you of!
So give it a go and take the 5-minute pre-screening test.
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
If you’re looking to travel the world with your ESA—or even just across North America—then you should know that an emotional support animal in El Paso will be protected under the ACAA.
The Air Carrier Access Act is a law that states, “no persons with a mental or physical disability shall be discriminated against traveling with their assistance animal.” In particular, if you choose to travel with your emotional support dog then you will be protected under the ACAA so as long as you follow the basic rules set by the airline.
For example, most airlines will require a 34 to 48-hour notice that an ESA will be traveling with them on-board. Additionally, many airlines will require you to fill out or provide the following documents:
- An ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional
- A record of your ESA recent vaccinations
- A signed document indicating that you will take the necessary measures to ensure your animal does not urinate or defecate in the aircraft.
Now people with disabilities that impair their day-to-day lives will be protected under the Americans Disabilities Act. In the state of Texas, only those who have a service dog or psychiatric service dog will be protected under the ADA.
Unfortunately, an emotional support animal in El Paso, Texas has not warranted this same privilege. This means that your ESA cannot access public settings like malls, grocery stores, and even your workplace.
However, if you do believe your ESA does better your overall emotional well-being, and thus improves your performance at work. Then you can always ask your employer to make an exception—however, these exceptions to allow ESAs in a workplace will depend on a case-by-case basis
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
As in most cities across the United States, and emotional support animal in El Paso, Texas will be protected under the federal Fair Housing Act.
Under the laws of the FHA, a landlord or housing agency cannot discriminate against potential tenants based on race, sex, religion, and a person with mental or physical disabilities. The FHA states that your landlord should provide reasonable accommodation to you and your ESA when in need. In addition, a landlord cannot charge a person with a disability a “pet-fee”, as an emotional support animal in El Paso is not a pet!
Though, the FHA aims to protect those with assistance animals. It is important to remember that an emotional support animal may be rejected should it be of financial undue burden, threaten the safety of the landlord, or alter the landlord’s role.
ESA Campus Housing
The federal Fair Housing Act extends to university campus housing as well! If you’re a student suffering from mental illness. Then you are allowed to bring your emotional support animal into campus housing. However, you will need to show your university all the necessary documents (ESA letter)indicating that you do require an emotional support animal.
Exception to Rules
Your landlord and housing agency is allowed to reject your emotional support animal when:
- The animal is considered dangerous to the public. For example, an ESA dog who displays aggressive behavior can be rejected.
- Your landlord can deny reasonable accommodation if the ESA is damaging property.
- If you don’t show a valid ESA letter, signed by a licensed mental health professional, then you may be denied reasonable accommodation.
- If animal cruelty is suspected, then your landlord can deny an ESA.
Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal
A person who misrepresents an emotional support dog or in fact any assistance animal will be subject to a $300 fine and up to 30 hours of community service in a non-profit organization.
3 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
- An emotional support animal in El Paso is not considered a pet! All ESAs are assistance animals!
- When traveling—your ESA will be allowed with you in the cabin! Airlines can’t charge you any pet-fees!
- There’s no such thing as an emotional support animal registry! So once you get an ESA letter you don’t need to register them!
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
Since most emotional support animals are companion animals, you can begin your search for an ESA in a non-profit organization like an animal shelter. Most people seeking an emotional support animal in El Paso often may visit animal shelters like:
- El Paso Animal Services Center
- Humane Society of El Paso, and
- The Animal Rescue League of El Paso, Inc
Alternatively, you can also choose to buy an emotional support animal from a reputable breeder.
Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal
You can take your ESA to so many pet-friendly places in El Paso! So, make sure you reward your ESA for all their hard word by rewarding them with some fun times!
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
Take your emotional support dog for a good run! Make sure you visit these dog parks:
- Westside Dog Park Don Haskins Community Center
- Pebble Hills Dog Park
- Eastwood Dog Park
Dog-friendly restaurants and bars
Head to a nice restaurant with your ESA! Check out these restaurants for your next doggy date night:
- Barrigas Mexican Restaurant
- Tippi Teas
Resorts, fitness, and spas
Checking into a hotel? Check out these ESA-friendly hotels:
- La Quinta Inn El Paso East
- Red Roof Inn El Paso West
ESAs in El Paso: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your City Today!
If you’re ready to get an emotional support animal in El Paso, Texas then why wait any longer? Emotional support animals are proving to be quite beneficial and helpful to those suffering from mental illness.
Their gentle nature, loyally, and companionship can be quite a powerful medicine. So, make sure you connect with a licensed mental health professional from CertaPet to get started!