Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Honolulu

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: April 6, 2021

honolulu hawaii wakiki beach at sunsetAre you interested in getting an emotional support animal? Many owners are after the same info as you – which is why we’ve put together this handy guide on getting an emotional support animal in Honolulu!

Emotional support animals are a key part of many people’s health treatment. So, if you proudly call Hawaii home, or are visiting for a much needed holiday, it’s vital that those who need a support or service animal are able to have one. Here, we explain everything you need to know about getting an emotional support animal in Honolulu.

Emotional Support Animal in Honolulu: Specific Protection

State and federal laws of Hawaii provide broad protection for people with disabilities to have their assistance animals accompany them in public places and housing.

The American Disability Act (ADA) states that a person with a disability may use a service dog or animal for a number of reasons. The dog or animal is allowed to remain with the person in all contexts, including in public places, while traveling and in their workplace or place of study.

Unfortunately, while emotional support animals provide their owners with amazing benefits, the ADA does not offer emotional support animals the same rights as service animals.

Luckily there are two ironclad laws that do protect emotional support animals: the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

Definition of an Assistance Animal

A service animal in Hawaii is defined as an animal which is specifically trained to perform specific tasks to assist with a disability. Dogs and occasionally miniature horses are the most common animals that are trained to assist with these disabilities. The definition of a service animal, taken from the American Disability Act states that:

Some examples of service animals include:

  • Guide dogs or Seeing-eye dogs
  • Hearing or Signal dogs
  • Psychiatric service dogs
  • Sensory signal dogs
  • Seizure response dogs

Animals that are not specifically trained to complete tasks that assist a person with a disability are classified as assistance animals, which includes emotional support animals.

Emotional support animals provide their owner with the love and comfort they need in their home, airport, and overall life. There have been many cases where ESAs helped their owner overcome panic/anxiety attacks, depression, PTSD, and more. Because they are assistance animals, they are covered under the travel and living federal laws.

icon emotional support dog in pet carriers

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Honolulu, HI: CertaPet’s Simple 5 Min Process

Getting an ESA is a simple and easy process through Certapet.

  1. Complete the speedy 5-minute online pre-screening test.
  2. If you qualify, get in touch with one of our licensed mental health professionals.
  3. If the LMHP believes you would benefit from an emotional support animal then you receive your letter within 48 business hours!

Don’t let the process of getting an emotional support animal in Honolulu intimidate you! Constant companionship and support from your pet whenever you need it is easy to achieve with Certapet.

emotional support animal in honolulu on wakiki beach

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

The Air Carrier Access Act is a law that assists Americans that need to travel either with service or support animals. This travel law states that any individual with an assistance animal (emotional support animal and service) is permitted to travel onboard a plane without paying a pet fee.

Keep in mind, many airlines have been changing their policies to only allow emotional support dogs and cats.

If you are flying with Hawaiian airlines, make sure to notify the airline 48 hours prior to your flight of your ESA.

Service animals are subject to verbal confirmation of their duties, while emotional support animals are admitted pursuant to showing appropriate documentation: emotional support animal letter. If you are able to provide documentation of your emotional support dog or cat, you should not be charged an extra fee to bring your support animal.

Employment Laws

Employment laws are in place in Honolulu to support the use of service animals, as required by American Disabilities act. But unfortunately, that does not necessarily allow your emotional support animal access to the workplace.

Therefore the best course of action is to raise the subject with your workplace. If you are thinking about bringing an emotional support animal to work, talk to your boss, as they may allow ESAs on a case-by-case basis.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

Emotional support animals have a right to live in public housing are protected by Hawaiian and Federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act. This act decrees that reasonable accommodation must be made available to any person with a disability. This means that not accepting a tenant with a service animal or emotional support animal, or charging extra for this, is a federal offense.

Any landlord in Honolulu and the rest of Hawaii must allow a service animal or emotional support animal to reside with the person that needs it, in the interest of fair housing.

newly moved emotional support cat in honolulu apartment

ESA Campus Housing

Another type of accommodation that must abide by the Fair Housing Act is accommodation found on campus. Any student requiring a service animal or emotional support animal in Honolulu must be granted the right for it to reside on campus.

They just need the correct documentation – a legal emotional support animal letter verified by a licensed mental health professional.

Exceptions to the Rules

The laws in the area of service animals and emotional support animals can change regularly. Be sure to keep an eye out for changing legislation which could bring in exceptions to the rules.

If your ESA is a danger to other people, animals or property, you will lose your rights to keep the ESA with you. The same goes for any sign of animal abuse. If you commit to living with an ESA, you really need to take good care of it!

It also doesn’t hurt if they have basic obedience training!

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

The punishments for misrepresenting service animals are harsh, so ensure that your support animal has the correct documentation. Hawaii has recently introduced new laws which give out fines ranging from $100 – 500 for purposefully misrepresenting an assistance animal.

To avoid feeling guilty and potentially getting a nasty fine, make sure you get your emotional support animal letter from a 100% HIPPA compliant and reputable source, such as Certapet. Once you have that, make sure you know where your ESA is welcome, and don’t try to pass it off as a service animal, and try to sneak into public places!

3 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. ESAs are a valuable resource for people struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or even loneliness.
  2. Although ESAs have protection under the Air Carrier Access Act, always check with an individual airline what their policy is before booking flights. Especially the non-refundable type!
  3. ESAs do not just have to be dogs! You can get emotional support cats too! Outside of these two, LMHP may not feel comforting writing a prescription based on the type of pet.

What is an ESA Letter?

An ESA or emotional support animal letter is supporting documentation from a licensed medical health professional that confirms the necessity of a support animal. This letter allows your pet to provide support to you in times of need, if it’s at home or the airport.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

If you have anything from anxiety to depression, emotional support dogs or animals are an excellent choice to help you improve your life.

Because emotional support animals don’t need special training, where you source them is up to you. Some great places to look for your new furry friend include:

  • Hawaii Humane Society
  • Island Doggie
  • Local Breeders

Better yet, if you have a loving pooch already then go ahead and see if you qualify today.

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal

Guess what? Rover doesn’t have to go to a boarding kennel during your time in Hawaii!

If you are getting an emotional support animal in Honolulu, there are a bunch of dog-friendly establishments the two of you can go to! If you want to socialize with other owners and get your doggo out there too, try these cool canine hangouts.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Puppies and grown-up dogs alike will love having fun in the dog parks and dog runs of Honolulu!

  • Moanalua Dog Park
  • Ala Wai Dog Park
  • Hawaii Kai Dog Park
  • Diamond Head Dog Park
  • Manoa Valley Dog Park
  • Mililani Dog Park

Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

Dine with your pet at these dog-friendly restaurants:

  • Nico’s at Pier 38
  • Greek Marina
  • Gordon Biersch
  • Wahoo’s Fish Taco
  • Barefoot Beach Cafe

Or have a drink with your pal to celebrate getting an emotional support animal in Honolulu:

  • Real A Gastropub
  • Proof Public House
  • Nashville Waikiki
  • Hukilau Honolulu

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

Don’t bother with dog boarding! If you want to bring your emotional support animal to Honolulu, just find a pet-friendly accommodation! Try these no-fee places to stay with your doggo:

  • Sanctuary by the Sea
  • Selected Airbnb Apartments
  • Diamond Head Beach Hotel
  • Hale Wa’a

Or pay a small pet fee to have your pet with you at these hotels:

  • Hotel Renew
  • The Kahala Hotel and Resort
  • Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach
  • White Sands Hotel
  • Aqua Ohia Hotel


Bring Fido is an awesome community of dog lovers. If you’re keen on checking out dog events, try navigating to the events and activities section of their sites for fun meetups.

ESAs in Honolulu: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!

Get in contact with Certapet now, and we will have you connected with a licensed mental health professional quickly and conveniently. Don’t waste another day suffering! See if you qualify today and have the comfort of your pet with you at all times!

Common Questions

Where can I get an ESA in Honolulu?

Which restaurants in Honolulu allow ESAs?

Are there ESA events in Honolulu?

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