Living with a mental illness is not easy on anyone. Luckily, people suffering from mental health disorders don’t have to feel alone any longer.
Getting an emotional support animal in Quebec, Canada can better the quality of life of many people living with a mental illness and/or mood disorder. Emotional support animals (ESAs) can make living with conditions such as anxiety and depression much, much easier. Plus, there are so many benefits to adding a new furry friend to your life!
Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Quebec, Canada
If you suffer from a mental health disability such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression, getting an ESA is a great idea. Any animal can be an emotional support animal (ESA), but the most common ones are definitely cats and dogs.
Quebec is a beautiful place with wide open spaces. If the great outdoors intimidate you, though, an emotional support animal is the answer. ESAs love you unconditionally and will be by your side whenever you need them. Their company is truly therapeutic, and so many people, including veterans, can attest to this!
But what exactly is an emotional support animal in the eyes of the law? And what can you do to start your search for one today?
Definition of an Assistance Animal According to Canadian Law
The job of an assistance animal is to make the life of a person with disabilities easier. Depending on their owner’s impairment, they will have different functions. This is why there are generally three types of assistance animals: service animals, psychiatric service animals, and–in some provinces–emotional support animals.
Service animals receive special training so they can carry out specific tasks to help their owners. There are even service dog trainers out there training pups up to be real superhero dogs! The most common examples of service dogs are seeing eye dogs, or dogs that help people with physical disabilities do things like open doors or push elevator buttons!
There are also psychiatric service animals, who receive special training. They’re awarded to people suffering from a mental disability and the tasks they carry out are varied. Some examples include reminding their owner to take their meds or getting help when they have a panic attack.
Then there are emotional support animals. ESAs are not trained like service animals are and, thus, not considered service animals. However, their presence is still valuable. Their job is to provide emotional comfort to their owners. Comforting a person after an anxiety attack, for example, is one of their most important tasks.
You may have also heard of therapy animals. In Canada, they are not considered assistance animals. You can find them in hospitals and nursing homes. There, they provide comfort to the patients and residents. The benefits they have on these people’s lives are undeniable.
What is an ESA Letter and Why You Need One in Canada!
An emotional support animal letter is the most important document ESA owners can have. It grants them certain rights and freedoms. If you’re thinking of getting an emotional support animal in Quebec, Canada, this letter is a must for you.
This ESA letter is issued by a qualified mental health professional who can practice in your province. It proves that you have a diagnosed mental health condition and that your ESA is a part of your clinical treatment plan. In short, it states that your ESA is an assistance animal and not just a pet.
Unfortunately, there are companies out there looking to take advantage of people seeking ESAs. You may see companies advertising an emotional support animal identification card or a bunch of ESA items like vests or certificates. Don’t be fooled — only emotional support animal letters issued by a qualified mental health professional who can practice in your province have any legal value!
Travel Laws: The Canadian Transportation Agency
Mental health is finally being seen as a real issue — as real as any physical disability or illness. This is a great thing! Now, people with mental disorders will, at last, be treated with the respect they deserve.
As a result, the Canadian Transportation Agency allows ESAs and their owners to fly together.
To take advantage of this privilege, you need an emotional support animal letter. There’s no way of getting around that. You will also need to contact the airline and ask them about their ESA policy. Some carriers have special requirements for all dogs and cats traveling on their planes.
Make sure to be informed. Otherwise, your travel plans could be ruined. Remember, it’s the responsibility of every ESA owner to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations of traveling with animals.
The Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities Code
This ground-breaking voluntary code forces airlines to accommodate disabled passengers with special needs.
Navigating Canada’s Provincial ESA Laws
Not all laws protect ESAs. Some, mostly those regarding housing, vary from province to province. Since Quebec laws are somewhat murky, it’s incredibly important to know them well!
Unfortunately, in Quebec, there isn’t a law giving you the right to bring your ESA to work.
However, you can always ask your employer to make an exception. Your ESA comforts you, making you more productive at work. If you explain this to your boss and show them your emotional support letter, they may welcome your furry friend (especially if your ESA is very well behaved).
Getting an emotional support animal in Quebec to live with you can be somewhat complicated. No official law says that a landlord has to accept an ESA.
But that’s not the end of it. Luckily, the Régie du Logement has ruled that pets who provide therapeutic benefits can live with their owners. As ESAs make living with a mental disability much easier, they could be allowed in rented apartments.
You can play this ruling to your advantage. Talk to your landlord and show them your emotional support letter. Explain to them that the service your ESA gives you is crucial for your health and wellbeing. They may open their heart to you.
It is always better to reason with a Landlord than to threaten them with legal persecution if they don’t allow your ESA. The law in Quebec is a grey area where ESAs are involved. Some people might try to find loopholes in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, but remember, although the Régie du Logement makes allowances for ESAs, they are not a court!
ESA Campus Housing
Are you living on housing owned by the university? If so, you’re in the same boat as renters in the rest of Quebec. Leverage the Régie du Logement’s ruling in your favor. Present your letter to your housing provider and explain your situation to them. It’s always worth a shot!
Exceptions to the Rules
With great ESA rights come great responsibilities. Owning an emotional support animal in Quebec is not just about having freedoms. You must also comply with the law.
If you’re planning to fly with your ESA, do your research beforehand. Find out if the airline requires a vet form or if they have animal-size restrictions. If you don’t follow their requirements, your whole trip may be ruined.
Always keep in mind that you will need to control your animal’s behavior. It doesn’t matter if they’re the cutest dog or cat ever — they need to behave. Being a nuisance to other passengers and other tenants will automatically lose them their ESA rights.
Lastly, neglecting or abusing an ESA is also enough reason for them to be taken away from you. Animal control is very strict about animal welfare — as they should be! Keep your ESA healthy and happy and you won’t run into problems.
Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal in Canada
Passing off a pet as an assistance animal is a serious issue. In Quebec, pretending your pet is a service dog is punishable by law. If you’re caught, you will be charged a fine that can go up to $7000!
Why risk all these complications when you can do things the right way? Look into getting a valid ESA letter instead!
5 Important Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
Owning an emotional support animal in Quebec is an important decision. Thus, you need to know some things before you commit to getting one.
- You always need an ESA letter. It’s not just enough to have been diagnosed with a mental illness.
- Only a qualified mental health professional who can practice in your province or a doctor can issue an ESA letter. Otherwise, it won’t be valid.
- In Quebec, ESAs do not need to be trained. This is the main thing that separates them from service dogs. It also means that your own pet could become your ESA! However, we ALWAYS recommend training your ESA to become a Canine Good Citizen.
- Any dog or cat can be an ESA. There are some strange ESAs out there, but trust us when we say dogs and cats (and the occasional rabbit) are the way to go!
- Housing is regulated on a province-by-province and case-by-case basis. So make sure to read up on Quebec laws.
Where to Start the Search for Your Ideal ESA!
First, you cannot buy an emotional support animal. You have to have a pet first and then get your ESA letter.
Are you ready to find your new furry friend? Then you should definitely consider adoption! It’s a budget-friendly way of adding a four-legged companion to your family. You will also be bettering the life of a pet in need.
Search for animal rescue organizations near you and visit them. You never know, you may just find your new best friend there!
Or perhaps you already have the perfect canine or feline in the family. They could be your ESA too!
Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal in Quebec
Now that you have your ESA by your side, it is time to show them the world. If you’re looking to take your emotional support dog or cat on a little trip, keep these places in mind:
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
Let your puppy run free in one of these dog parks and dog runs:
- Au Diable Vert, Sutton
- Parc Doncaster, Sainte Adèle
- Bois de Belle-Riviere, Mirabel
Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars
What about going for drinks and a bite to eat in your ESA’s company?
- Le Doggy Café, Montreal
- Côtes-à-Côtes Grill, Quebec City
- Hot Dog Café, Brossard
Resorts, Fitness, and Spas
Get ready for some serious pampering at one of these spas and resorts…
- Lowes Hotel Vogue Montreal, Montreal
- Hotel Pur, Quebec City
- Fairmont Tremblant, Mont Tremblant
Connecting with other pet lovers is a great way of making new friends. Not to mention that all dogs and cats should be socialized. Thus, going to pet-friendly events is something to keep in mind.
Luckily, there are dozens of year-round events dedicated to pets and their owners in Quebec. A simple Google or Facebook search will show you the ones nearest to you!