If you are an animal lover, then your furry friend likely completes your life. So, if you have a disability or have an emotional need, then having an emotional support animal in Fresno simply makes sense.
An emotional support animal can help you cope with your disability, and make your life that much more enjoyable and rewarding.
People who require service dogs or other types of assistance animals are typically diagnosed with a mental health disorder or mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental health professionals agree that the presence of an emotional support dog can help mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress as well as a number of other mental conditions.
Emotional Support Animal in Fresno: Specific protection
Although claims are typically processed on a case-by-case basis, today there are a number of legal protections for those who require emotional support animals.
There are two specific laws that guarantee protection for people who need an emotional support animal in Fresno.
These laws allow people with emotional support animals to travel on airplanes and secure housing. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows people to fully exercise their rights with their companion animal.
Definition of Assistance Animal
The simple definition of an assistance animal is a pet trained to perform services for an individual with an emotional or physical disability or need. Therefore, a licensed mental health professional or physician may recommend the service or assistance animal.
Studies and research have shown that pets provide immeasurable benefits for Americans with disabilities.
In fact, this type of therapy is gaining more attention as it does not require dependency or use of medications or any other types of interventions.
Creative animal-assisted therapy, such as the use of miniature horses, has proven to help individuals with disabilities. Dogs are by far the most common and ideal animals for the job though. Dogs can be easily trained and perform tasks for a wide range of people with disabilities.
However, it’s important to note the difference between service animals and assistance animals.
The key difference is emotional support dogs do not undergo specific service training as service dogs are required to do.
Official service dogs are trained to detect seizures, allergies, or even provide physical assistance to those who have a physical handicap. Emotional support animals simply provide comfort and support for an emotionally troubled individual.
How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Fresno
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) now makes it possible for individuals with an emotional need or disability to travel with an assistance animal.
However, under this federal law, individuals must do a few things prior to boarding an airplane with their emotional support animals.
- Provide the airline with at least 48 hours notice that you will be flying with your support animal
- Provide the airline with an ESA letter issued and signed by your mental health professional
- Check with the airline to see if any extra documentation is required
Some airlines may require the use of a pet carrier depending on the size of the animal.
Unfortunately, there are no laws requiring employers to allow an emotional support animal in Fresno into the workplace. Employers are only required to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act, which permits employees with physical disabilities to bring an official service animal into the workplace.
Sadly, this law does not extend to an emotional support animal in Fresno.
However, if you believe you have an emotional need, then the best course of action is asking your employer for an exception and presenting your ESA letter.
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), your landlord is not allowed to charge you an extra fee for having an assistance animal or deny you housing. Be sure to present your ESA letter to a potential landlord. An ESA will allow you to secure housing, even in housing developments that otherwise do not permit pets.
ESA Campus Housing
On-campus student housing is also covered by the FHA!
If you are a student and living on a university campus while you pursue education, you will be allowed to live with your assistance animal. In fact, more and more assistance animals are being seen on campuses throughout the state of California and nationwide.
Exception to Rules
Of course, there are exceptions to the rules regarding assistance animals. If for some reason, individual abuse his or her privileges of having an assistance animal, then this could result in an invalidation of your ESA letter.
These situations can include the following:
- Invalid ESA Letter: ESA letters are very specific. They require an official evaluation by a licensed mental health professional or physician. If he or she determines that you qualify for an emotional support animal, then your physician will complete and sign an ESA Letter.
- Failure to Advise: Airlines, landlords, and others cannot be held accountable under the law if an individual does not present his or her ESA letter within the required time period. For example, as stated above, individuals must inform airlines at least 48 hours prior to scheduled flight departure time that they will be traveling with an emotional support animal.
- Abuse: Having an assistance animal is a responsibility. This means the animal needs to be fed, cared for properly, and get regular check-ups at the vet. Obviously, physically abusing the animal is grounds for an ESA letter termination.
- Damage: If your assistance animal attacks another person or passenger, or damages property, then the ESA letter can be terminated. This is why it’s important to ensure that your animal is properly trained in obedience.
Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal
The law in Fresno has strict consequences for those who misrepresent a pet as an emotional support animal without a valid ESA letter. This is why an official ESA letter is so important.
As a result, misrepresenting a pet as an ESA is also a second-degree felony, which can result in severe penalties. The state of California takes these matters very seriously.
5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
Of course, you may be excited to begin your life with your new assistance animal, but please understand there are five things all people with assistance animals must be cognizant of:
- Emotional support animals are not pets, therapy dogs, or service dogs. Although the function of an ESA is protected, they are very different from service animals.
- Emotional Support Letters MUST be issued from licensed mental health professionals.
- ESA letters are the only documents that have legal value. There are no certifications.
- Dogs are not the only emotional support animals; some people prefer cats or even miniature horses. However, most airlines will likely prevent you from boarding an aircraft with a miniature horse…
- Emotional support animals do not receive the same public accommodations as service dogs. Therefore, your emotional support animal may not be permitted in the same places as service animals.
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
There are several different ways to find the right emotional support animal. For example, if you have a pet at home, this can make the process that much more seamless.
There are also animals and other non-profits that are willing to help people in need of these companions.
Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal
There are many wonderful places when wanting to get an emotional support animal in Fresno that will happily welcome your ESA!
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
- Todd Beamer Dog Park
- Woodward Dog Park
- Basin AH1 Dog Park and Pond
Dog-friendly restaurants and bars
- Meze House Mediterranean Grill
- Dai Bai Dang Restaurant
- Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Beer Garden
Resorts, fitness, and spas
- La Quinta Fresno Riverpark
- San Joaquin Suites
- Residence Inn by Marriott
There are plenty of events throughout the year in Fresno for you to bond with your ESA. Keep an eye out on upcoming events that will allow you to strengthen the bond between you and your new ESA.
ESAs in Fresno: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!
At CertaPet, our goal is to make the process of getting the assistance animal you need simple and as stress-free as possible.
Our list of recommended mental health professionals will be happy to speak with you and perform an evaluation to determine if you qualify for an ESA!