Having an emotional support animal in Fort Worth, Texas is great for people with a mental health disability. If you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety, for example, you may be eligible to become an ESA owner. This human-animal bond has been proven to better ESA owners’ emotional well-being and reduce stress. Not only that, but they’re also protected by two iron-clad federal laws.
Emotional Support Animal in Fort Worth: Specific Protection
Having an emotional support animal in Fort Worth grants you protection under two laws.
As an ESA owner, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) will be your best friends. This is all thanks to the fight of many legislators and animal-rights activists.
Definition of Assistance Animal
An emotional support animal is considered an assistance animal. They provide care and comfort to their owner who suffers from a mental illness. But there are other animals that fall into this category. A service dog is also considered an assistance animal. They help people with disabilities in their day-to-day lives.
Think of seizure-alert dogs, for example. You can also think of psychiatric service animals. All these service dogs have been professionally trained to perform tasks.
Despite being lumped together into the same category, ESAs and service animals are not the same thing. Unlike service dogs, emotional support dogs don’t go through training. They’re also not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Don’t get them confused!
How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Fort Worth: CertaPet’s simple 5-minute process
Getting an emotional support animal in Fort Worth isn’t difficult at all if you qualify! CertaPet handles the boring bureaucracy so that you don’t need to stress about anything.
The first thing you need to know is if you qualify as an ESA owner. They are prescribed to individuals with disabilities, so we need to know about your mental health status.
To find out, all you need to do is take our simple pre-screening test here.
If the result is positive, we’ll put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional in your state. They will be the ones to issue your ESA letter, which you’ll get shortly thereafter. In some cases, this whole process takes just 48 hours to be complete!
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
Thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act, you can now fly with your ESA! The next time you go to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport for an international or even cross-country flight you could bring your ESA. The airline won’t stop you or your puppy from boarding nor charge you an extra fee. Sweet, right? All you have to do is this:
- Give the airline a notice of at least 48 hours that you’ll be flying with an ESA.
- Show the airline your ESA letter, as issued by your mental health professional.
- Check with your airline if they ask for any extra documents.
You should also assure the airline your ESA won’t be aggressive towards other passengers. As long as you comply with everything they ask, you should be fine. You’ll be going on a trip with your companion animal in no time!
Employers are not obligated by law to let ESAs into the workplace. Since they’re not a service dog, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to them.
However, you can always try asking your employer for an exception as this is a legal blind spot. This would work on a case-by-case basis. Remember to talk about how beneficial your ESAs presence is to you, and to bring your ESA letter with you!
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
Are you renting an apartment and own an emotional support animal in Fort Worth? If so, we have good news. The Fair Housing Act states that ESA owners have the right to live with their comfort animals. Because of this, landlords can’t deny you housing or charge you an extra fee.
To be covered by the law, simply show your housing provider your valid ESA letter. That will be enough to grant you and your ESA housing. This even applies to places with a no-pet policy and to assisted living facilities!
ESA Campus Housing
Luckily for college students, on-campus housing is also considered in the FHA. This means that even residence halls must provide reasonable accommodation for ESAs and their owners.
To be covered by the law, all you have to do is show your housing provider your ESA letter. You should also make sure your support dog won’t be aggressive or loud.
Exception to Rules
All these laws are great, but as the owner of an emotional support animal in Fort Worth, you also have responsibilities. There are instances when the ACAA and the FHA may not apply to you. Here is a list of some of these cases:
- Not having a valid ESA letter.
- Refusing or failing to show the ESA letter to airlines and landlords.
- Mistreating your ESA by, for example, not giving them enough pet food, not providing veterinary care, or emotional abuse. The state can intervene and take your ESA away.
- If your ESA does any property damage or hurts someone, you’ll have to pay the bill.
Punishment for Mistreating an Assistance Animal
Unfortunately, there have been more and more pet owners misrepresenting assistance animals. This means that they try to pass off their pet as an ESA or as a service animal. In the city of Fort Worth and the state of Texas, this has drastic consequences.
If you do this, you will be charged with a second-class misdemeanor. You’ll have to pay a fine of up to $300 and may even have to serve up to 30 hours of community service.
5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
Before cuddling up with your new ESA puppy, you need to know a few things:
- An emotional support animal is not a pet, therapy dog, or a service dog.
- Emotional support letters are always issued by a mental health professional.
- There’s no such thing as an “ESA registration” or an “ESA certificate.” The only document that has any legal value is the ESA letter.
- You don’t need to get a dog (for example a pit bull) as an ESA, you could get one of several breeds of cats or even miniature horses!
- By law, your ESA is not entitled to public accommodation like service animals are. You have to ask for the manager’s permission or go to pet-friendly places.
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
This is the exciting part! Since your ESA letter will be awarded to you and not your animal, you have the freedom to pick one. Virtually any animal can become your ESA, as long as they’re part of the ESA-accepted-animals list.
If you already have a pet at home, they could become your new side-kick. If you don’t there are always animal shelters and places ran by a non-profit organization looking to rehouse their animals. Who knows, you might find your new best friend here. You’d also be giving them a new life and shot at being happy.
What you should be looking for is a connection with an animal. As long as you feel comfortable and connected to them, they could potentially become your ESA.
Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal
Now that you have your puppy in your arms, it’s more than normal to want to take them out in public! Think of it: catching some fresh air, being around other dogs, and going for walks… Doesn’t it sound great?
Don’t forget that your emotional support dog can’t just walk into whatever public place you want. You need to look for pet-friendly establishments and dog parks. Thankfully, Fort Worth is the perfect place for this!
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
Bring your ESA to catch some fresh air and roll around on a grassy area in one of these parks:
- ZBonz Dog Park
- Coyote Drive-In
Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars
Why not go bring your ESA when you go to eat or drink at a bar? You can in one of these places:
- Fort Worth Food Truck Park
- Ye Olde Bull and Bush Pub
- Woodshed Smokehouse
- The Ginger Man
Resorts, Fitness, and Spas
Are you stopping by with your emotional support animal in Fort Worth? If so, get ready for a memorable holiday and pampering get-away in one of these hotels:
- La Quinta Inn & Suites Fort Worth
- The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth
- The Ashton Hotel
- Staybridge Suites Fort Worth
Fortworth is a great place for dog-dedicated events. There are always dozens of them going on year-round. It’s also a really nice idea if you want to meet other dog lovers! Not only that, but it’s also the perfect chance to get your dog to socialize. A simple Facebook or Google search will immediately reveal which events are going on around you. Try it, you won’t regret it!
ESAs in Fort Worth: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today
Here at CertaPet, we make this whole process of getting an ESA to seem like a breeze. All you need to do is fill out our pre-screening test and we’ll analyze your answers. If you pass, we’ll put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional. You won’t need to reach for the yellow pages or look for one online. It’s that simple to get an emotional support animal in Fort Worth when you have a real disability!