Getting An Emotional Support Animal in Hawaii

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 16, 2021

emotional support animal in hawaiiGetting an emotional support animal in Hawaii is no tricky business! Today, the state of Hawaii dictates that any person suffering from a mental illness (be it post-traumatic stress disorder to anxiety), has the right to request an emotional support animal from their licensed mental health professional. Here we’re going to cover what you need to know about getting an emotional support animal in Hawaii!

Emotional Support Animal in Hawaii: Specific protection

If you’re considering getting an emotional support animal in Hawaii, then it’s crucial that you know your rights. According to the state of Hawaii, all emotional support animals are protected under the federal fair housing act and the Air Carrier Access Act. However, your ESA will not be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Definition of Assistance Animal

Assistance animal held by a blind woman while crossing the street in Hawaii

The state of Hawaii defines an assistance animal as a dog, cat, and/or small animal companion, whose main task is to assist their owners by providing companionship and relief during times of difficulty. The Hawaiian Civil Rights Commission states that an assistance animal does not require formal training and certification by the federal, state, or country of origin.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in the State of Hawaii: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process

ESA dog caressed by ESA cat on a beach in Hawaii

Getting an emotional support animal in Hawaii has never been easier! If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, loneliness, or depression then maybe it’s time to speak to a mental health professional about getting your assistance animal.

Fortunately, here at CertaPet, we’ve made things a lot easier for you! All you need to do is take our pre-screening test online and within no time you’ll be connected with a licensed mental health professional. If you qualify for an ESA then the good news is that you’ll receive a legitimate ESA letter directly from us in less than 48 hours!

Check out our pre-screening page to get started! Your emotional well-being does matter to us!

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Getting an emotional support animal in Hawaii? Did you know you can travel with your ESA on airplanes!

According to the Air Carrier Access Act, no individuals with any mental or physical disability shall be discriminated from boarding an airline with their assistance animal.  However, in order to ensure you and your ESA have a stress-free travel, the Air Carrier Access Act states that:

  • It is the handler’s responsibility to provide a 48-hour notice to their Airline of choice.
  • The Airline has the right to request for proper and current documentation for a person with a mental disability.
  • Should the flight be more than 8-hours, then the airline has the right to request documentation stating that the assistance animal will not relieve itself.

Employment Laws

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is a dog that undergoes specific training to assist their owners. Thus, this law protects people with disabilities that may be a physical, psychiatric, intellectual, or sensory disability. A service animal is allowed in public facilities; and therefore, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against handlers.

Unfortunately, an emotional support animal is often referred to as comfort animals, while we recognize that the human-animal bond is quite powerful. ESAs are not going to be protected under the ADA law. This means that an employer has the right to reject your emotional support animal in a workplace.

However, some employers allow their employees to bring in their ESA. Therefore, the best thing to do if you are wondering if you can bring them to work is to just ask!

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

According to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and Fair Housing Act,  a landlord is required to provide “reasonable accommodation” to people with assistance animals. This means that, if you choose to reside in a home that has a ‘no pets’ or ‘no animals’ rule, then your landlord is required to exempt you from this rule.

However, your landlord or housing provider has the right to:

  • Ask you for the proper documentation that dictates your need for a comfort animal
  • Has the right to ask for a medical note from your psychologist, mental health professional, or physician

In the state of Hawaii, your landlord has the right to deny your emotional support animal when:

  • You have an outstanding balance of unpaid rent
  • Your animal or dog is a threat to others or is causing destruction to the property
  • You have not provided the proper documentation

Learn more about Emotional Support Animals and the Fair Housing Acting.

ESA Campus Housing

In the state of Hawaii, an ESA is welcomed in Campus Housing. However, some Universities may require students to meet with a KOKUA Program counselor in order to gain approval for an ESA on-campus housing.

Exception to Rules

Though Emotional Support Animals are not considered ‘pets’, they are still protected under the state animal neglect laws. This means that should a handler abuse, neglect, or hurt their assistant or service animal in any way, then Hawaii law enforcement and animal control have the right to press charges as it becomes a criminal offense.

In regards to the Fair Housing Act, should an assistance animal be deemed too dangerous to the landlord and may potentially put others at risk of injury, the housing provider has the right to deny the ESA.

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

According to the Hawaiian state law, if a person knowingly misrepresents an emotional support animal, service animal, or assistance animal. Then this is considered a punishable act which can result in:

  • Imprisonment for less than 6 months
  • First Offence—A fine between $250 to $1000
  • Second Offence and thereon after—A fine of up to $2000

3 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. Emotional support animals are there to provide you with comfort during times of stress, depression, and anxiety. These animals are often prescribed as part of a therapeutic treatment plan.
  2. An ESA can be anything from snub-nosed dogs like pugs to cute miniature horses (just make sure they may be denied because of their breed if you want to fly with them on a specific airline so also check ahead)!
  3. Bringing your ESA to Hawaii? Be sure to check out the Hawaii state laws, as ESAs may be quarantined.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

If you’re looking into getting an emotional support animal in Hawaii, then there are many places you can look into! Because these assistance animals don’t require special training you can try to search for your ESA at:

  • Local shelters like the Hawaiian Humane Society, Oahu SPCA clinic, and Hawaii Dog Foundation
  • Hawaiian Animal Sanctuary
  • Specific breeders

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

Not sure where you can take your emotional support animal for fun? Try taking them to dog parks, runs, pet-friendly resorts, and spas! Afterall, providing comfort to us humans does take a lot of hard work and dedication!

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Here are some awesome dog parks to check-out with your ESAs in Hawaii:

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

Heading out for lunch? Why not take your emotional support dog as well! Check out these dog-friendly restaurants and bars:

  • Nico’s at Pier 38—Honolulu
  • Wahoo’s Fish Taco—Honolulu
  • Gordan Biersch—Honolulu

Resorts, fitness, and spas

Heading for vacation? Don’t worry! You can take your emotional support animal with you too! Check out these pet-friendly resorts and spas:

  • The Modern Honolulu—Honolulu (+Pet Fee)
  • Westin Maui Resort & Spa Kaanapali—Lahaina (No Pet Fee)
  • Hotel Renew—Honolulu (+Pet Fee)


There’s always a lot of crazy pet-related events going on in Hawaii! So, check out BringFido for more information on what, where, and when do pet events occur in your state!

ESAs in Hawaii: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Hawaii

In order to get an emotional support animal in Hawaii, you will need to get connected with your local Licensed Mental Health Practitioner. Fortunately, you can contact Hawaii Counselors Association for more information on how you can speak to your local mental health professional.

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