Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Ontario, CanadaReading Time: 5 minutes
Getting an emotional support animal can be a life-changing experience. For people suffering from mental disabilities and illnesses, an ESA can prove to be quite beneficial to their mental health. To learn more about having an emotional support animal in Ontario, Canada continue reading!
Disclaimer: CertaPet has qualified therapists in British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario only at this time.
Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Ontario, Canada
Before getting an emotional support animal in Ontario, Canada, you will need to make yourself aware of Canada’s policies on emotional support animals.
Unlike in the United States of America, emotional support animals are not well-defined under Canadian law. Therefore, it is important to stay well-informed about what regulations and acts would protect you from discrimination.
Definition of an Assistance Animal According to Canadian Law
Before you plan on getting an emotional support animal in Ontario, you will need to familiarize yourself with the different types of assistance animals available in Canada.
Under Canadian laws, people with disabilities are entitled to assistant animals to help them with their day to day tasks. An assistance animal is often a dog, that may be trained to help their owners with daily activities. An assistance animal can help their handlers in many ways! They can detect symptoms of a person with a disability, or they may help alleviate symptoms caused by a disability.
In Ontario, an assistance animal can be either a trained service dog, an emotional support dog or a psychiatric service dog.
Service animals receive extensive training to help people with disabilities. Now, they don’t just have to help those with physical disabilities! Service dogs can be trained to help those with sensory, intellectual, and even psychiatric disabilities. An example of a working service dog is a seeing-eye dog for the blind.
Psychiatric service dogs are trained to help people with psychiatric disabilities. Now, these psychiatric disabilities can include post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, severe anxiety, and depression.
These types of assistant dogs may be trained to remind a handler to consume their medication, to guide a handler out of a psychiatric episode, or to interrupt the handler when they are having a psychiatric episode.
Although Canada does not clearly define what an emotional support animal is, American laws state that emotional support animals are those designated to provide comfort and safety to people suffering from mental illnesses. ESAs are commonly used to assist those with depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
What is an ESA Letter, and Why You Need One in Canada!
If you plan on getting an emotional support animal in Ontario, you will require an ESA letter to support your need for one.
These letters can only be provided by a qualified mental health professional. So, you should think of them as prescriptions.
An ESA letter is a document that states your need for a support animal and indicates that your emotional support animal is part of your treatment. Therefore, an ESA letter would entitle people with mental or emotional disabilities the right to bring their emotional support animals onto an aircraft. It would also entitle ESA owners the right to reasonable accommodation.
Travel Laws: The Canadian Transportation Agency
For those planning on getting an emotional support animal in Ontario, it’s important to note that the Canadian Transport Agency implements regulations when it comes to traveling with an assistance animal.
The Canadian Transport Agency recognizes that an emotional support animal does not require any specialized training to assist its handler. Instead, the mere presence of an ESA is supportive of their handler’s disability.
Now, if you would like to travel with your ESA, then it is crucial to provide an emotional support animal letter to your air carrier.
The Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities Code
The Canadian travel laws dictate that there can be occasions where an emotional support animal can be denied access to a flight.
Before boarding with your ESA, the airline will need to assess the animal’s size and weight. For example, if the animal is too large to remain at their handlers seat, then they may be rejected.
In addition to this, an airline can reject an emotional support animal if:
- The animal is not potty trained and is not under the control of the handler.
- The ESA displays aggressive behaviors such as growling at others.
- The ESA barks, bites, lunges at passengers or relieves its self on the aircraft.
There are a few provincial laws that protect people with disabilities. If you’re interested in learning more about what your rights are in Ontario, then considered reading about these laws.
- The Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
- Bill 80, Ontario Service Dogs Act
- Section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act
Unfortunately, as emotional support animals are not service dogs or guide dogs, they are not allowed to accompany owners into the workplace.
Nevertheless, should people who have a mental illness, find that an emotional support animal betters their work performance, then you can consider speaking with your boss about bringing your ESA to your job.
Living in Ontario has its perks! For the most part, the majority of housing agencies and landlords allow pets in homes.
Under the Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord cannot enstate a no-pet clause. However, bear in mind that a landlord does have the right to reject a pet or ESA should you plan on renting a condominium.
ESA Campus Housing
Under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), a person with a disability is allowed to bring their service dog or guide dog in campus housing. Unfortunately, emotional support animals are excluded from this law since they are not considered service animals.
Nevertheless, many students may provide their university with an emotional support animal letter. Depending on the individual case, a university may allow an animal in on-campus housing.
Exception to the Rules
Now there are certain instances where a landlord can evict an owner and an ESA from the property.
For example, if the tenant fails to care for their pet (or emotional support animal), then the landlord has the right to report them to the authorities.
Finally, a landlord cannot evict a tenant if the emotional support animal:
- Destroys property
- Barks consistently
- Is of a threat to the landlord or other tenants
Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal in Canada
Canada does not directly mention the penalties that follow when a person who misrepresents an emotional support animal is caught.
However, under the Ontario Human Rights Act, a person who misrepresents a service animal can face a fine of upwards to $5000. It is unclear as to if such a similar penalty exists for those who misrepresent other assistance animals.
2 Important Facts You Need to Know
- Although there are no specific laws designated to ESAs, the HumanRights Act will protect individuals with a disability, even if it is a mental or emotional disability.
- Emotional support animals (ESAs) are not companion animals and nor are they therapy dogs. Rather, they are assistance animals that bring comfort and companionship to an individual.
Where to Start the Search for Your Ideal ESA!
If you are planning on getting an emotional support animal in Ontario, Canada, then there are a few places you can go to start your search.
Ontario is a large province that makes an immense effort to care for animals in shelters. For those looking for an emotional support animal in Ontario, we highly recommend visiting the following places:
- Toronto Humane Society
- Save our Scruff Dog Rescue
- The Doberman Rescue Group, Ontario
- Mississauga Humane Society
- Save Me Dog Rescue
- Team Dog Rescue
Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal in Ontario
Whether you live in Toronto or Hamilton, Ontario is a province that loves pets! They love pets so much that there are many pet-friendly parks, hotels, and restaurants opened all over the province. So make you check out these popular sites!
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
- Sunnybrook Park, Toronto
- Earl Bales Leash Free Dog Park, Toronto
- High Park Trail, Toronto
Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars
- Sandstone Grillhouse, Niagara Falls
- Carmelina, Markham
- My Dog’s Cafe & Bar, Hamilton
- Munchies Coffee House & BARKery
Resorts, Fitness, and Spas
- The Blue Mountain Resort
- Bobs Lake Cottages, Godfrey
- Four Seasons, Toronto
- Omni King Edward Hotel, Toronto
- East Egg Hunt Fundraiser in London, Windsor, Toronto, and Kitchener
- The Muddy Paws Wine Festival
- Rescue Roundup
ESAs in Ontario, Canada: How to Get Connected Today!
People suffering from mental health disabilities have the right to get an emotional support animal in Ontario. However, to qualify for an ESA, you will require an emotional support animal letter.
And remember: only a qualified mental health professional can issue this letter! So, if you believe that an ESA can better your mental illness, then consider getting in touch with a qualified therapist.
Currently, we are only servicing British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario. We are invoking the Human Rights Code when we issue these letters. The Human Rights Code provides the broadest protections to service animal users, as it extends the right to be free from discrimination, harassment, and reprisal in all of the social areas covered by the Code, including services, goods and facilities, accommodation, contracts, employment, and vocational associations. We are also fully aware and understand that an ESA does not have to be honored and can be denied. We make sure to let our clients know this. There is no legal obligation for the other party to approve an ESA request, but they may be motivated to do so on compassionate grounds. Animals that have little training, are poorly behaved or have damaged property will be rejected.
****The Canadian Transportation Agency is currently holding public consultations on the possibility of extending some ATPDR provisions. This includes the possibility of requiring that the air, rail, ferry, and bus carriers that they accept some or all untrained ESAs. They have published a consultation paper that invites travellers with disabilities, carriers, and any other interested parties to give them feedback. If anyone is interested in providing feedback, you will find more information, questions to answer, and instructions in the paper (https://otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/consultation-paper-phase-ii-accessible-transportation-persons-with-disabilities-regulations) . The deadline for comments is February 7, 2020.
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