Getting an Emotional Support Animal in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 19, 2023

st john's newfoundland and labrador seasideLiving with a mental illness can make it hard to appreciate all the beauty around you!

However, with an emotional support animal (ESA) by your side, you can finally enjoy the stunning coastal views of St. John’s. These animals form a tight bond with their owners and help them live a better life. If you’re in need of a furry companion to help you cope with your disability, getting an emotional support animal in St. John’s is a great idea!

Getting an Emotional Support Animal in St. John’s, Canada

The harsh Canadian winters can sometimes be unforgiving. But they don’t have to be! Those with a mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression can benefit a lot from the constant company of an ESA.

Picture this: you get home after a rough day and are welcomed by your loyal furry friend. Wouldn’t it feel great? But what exactly is an emotional support animal? And what makes them different from other pets or animals?

Definition of an Assistance Animal According to Canadian Law

Assistance dogs and cats are animals who help their owners live with a physical, mental, emotional, or psychological disability or condition. They are much more than companion animals. They’re there for their owners even when no one else is.

Service dogs are probably the most well-known of assistance animals. Service animals such as seeing eye dogs for the visually impaired or dogs that assist people in wheelchairs receive intensive training. They are trained to perform specific tasks to aid people with disabilities.

There are also psychiatric service animals. They, too, are trained to help their owner in their day-to-day life. These animals assist people with psychological disabilities. For example, they may call for help when their owner has an epileptic attack or bring medication to someone suffering from a mental illness.

In some provinces, an emotional support animal is considered an assistance animal too. After all, their job is to brighten up their owner’s day, keep them company, and shower them with love and affection. They play a super important role in a person’s clinical treatment plan, as coping with a mental illness can become much more manageable when they’re around!

Lastly, therapy animals are also popular even though they’re not considered assistance animals. They go around in public places such as hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up patients and residents. The bond they form with humans usually helps a lot in a patient’s recovery!

woman with her emotional support animal in st. john's newfoundland

What Is an ESA Letter and Why You Need One in Canada!

You may be wondering, “How can you tell an ESA from a regular pet?” That’s a very good question! Since an emotional support animal in St. John’s has rights that normal pets don’t, it’s important to tell them apart.

The only way to do that is by having an emotional support animal letter.  An ESA letter is written by a qualified mental health professional or doctor and is a legal document that describes your need for an ESA.

Essentially, the ESA letter shows that your feline or canine companion is a real emotional support animal–not just a pet. There are, therefore, laws that protect you and your ESA against discrimination when traveling on public transport as long as you have an ESA letter. 

Travel Laws: The Canadian Transportation Agency

If you want to travel with your ESA, the Canadian Transportation Agency has got you covered. They have ruled that people with a mental health problem must be accommodated comfortably just like any other passenger. Thus, you can travel by train, ferry, and plane in Canada with your ESA!

Just make sure you read up on the agency’s rules and regulations regarding traveling with animals!

Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities 

When traveling by plane, you will always need to have your ESA letter on you. In addition to that, your airline may also ask you to show other paperwork. Getting all these documents ready is easy, so make sure to check the airline’s requirements before getting to the airport.

emotional support dog dressed up as a pilot

Navigating Canada’s Provincial ESA Laws

The laws governing ESA accessibility differ from province to province in Canada. Therefore, it’s important to acquaint yourself with the laws of your province to learn as much as you can about your rights as an ESA owner. 

If you’re getting an emotional support animal in St. John’s, the Human Rights Act Section 5 is what tells you all you need to know about having an ESA in this city.

Employment Laws

Your boss or manager isn’t obligated to allow your ESA to come into the workplace. However, you can always show your supervisors your emotional support animal letter and explain that your ESA’s presence makes you more productive. You never know, they may make an exception for you.

Housing Laws

There is no federal law governing the accommodation of people with disabilities in Canada. The closest thing to consider is the Human Rights Code, which addresses discrimination against individuals with physical or mental disabilities. It states that: “A person must not deny to a person with a disability residential premises advertised or otherwise represented as available for occupancy by a tenant.”

Keep in mind, however, that some landlords simply might not allow an ESA. Make sure that yours is sympathetic before trying to bring an ESA home. Otherwise, look for accommodation where pets are allowed.

ESA Campus Housing

Again, the Human Rights Code is what you’ll refer to in the case of campus housing. It’s always best to explain your situation to those in charge of campus housing and show them your ESA letter.

Exceptions to the Rules

As always, there are exceptions to these ESA privileges and rules. Your rights as an ESA owner could be taken away in these circumstances:

  • If you neglect or abuse your ESA.
  • When your ESA is a nuisance or a danger to others.
  • If you fail to show a valid ESA letter to your landlord or to an airline.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal in Canada

Pretending to have been diagnosed with a disability so you can get an ESA is a crime. The same goes for saying your pet is an ESA or another type of assistance animal. In Quebec, for example, misrepresenting an assistance animal can get you a fine of CAN $1,400 or more!

3 Important Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

Before welcoming an emotional support animal in St. John’s into your life, you need to know three things:

  1. An ESA letter can be given to any man or woman diagnosed with an emotional or mental disability.
  2. Public accommodation is not mandatory for ESAs. However, they are welcome in pet-friendly establishments.
  3. Only a qualified mental health professional who can practice in your province or a registered doctor can issue an ESA letter.

Where to Start the Search for Your Ideal ESA

The great thing about emotional support animals is that there are not a lot of restrictions. Any kind of dog or cat can become an ESA. The only requirement is that you form an emotional connection with that animal.

If you already have a pet at home, they can become your new ESA. If not, you can go to a shelter and adopt a kitty or pup — they make great ESAs!

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal in St. John’s

There are some cool places in the St. John’s area that are pet-friendly. Drop by to have a fun day with your pup out of the house!

woman throwing frisbee for border collie in park

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Let Fido run free in one of these dog parks:

  • Sable Chief Dog Park
  • Mundy Pond off Blackler Avenue
  • Waterford Valley

Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

Do you know of any cool restaurants that welcome pups on a leash? If so, let us know so we can add them to our list!

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

There don’t seem to be any pet-friendly hotels and resorts in St. John’s. But with so many camping sites around the city, who needs a hotel?


There’s no better way to make animal-loving friends than by going to events dedicated to dogs. A quick Google or Facebook search will show you a list of events near you!

ESAs in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador: How to Get Connected Today!

Are you interested in getting an emotional support animal in St. John’s? To get started, take our free 5-minute pre-screening test. We’ll put you in touch with a qualified mental health professional who can practice in your province. They’ll book an appointment with you, and if you qualify, they’ll issue you an emotional support animal letter!

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.

Common Questions

What’s the difference between a pet and an ESA?

Can my ESA travel by plane?

Do ESAs have to live in pet-friendly apartments?

A new ruling on emotional support animals has been published by the Canadian Transportation Agency as of June 23, 2023 and will go into effect immediately.
Dogs will be the only animals accepted as ESAs, and only dogs that can fit in carriers are allowed in the cabin. The animal carrier must meet the carrier’s conditions and restrictions for carriage of animal carriers in the cabin (please see each carrier’s stipulations for sizing of carriers), and the ESD must remain in the carrier for the duration of its time in the passenger cabin.
This law does not affect ESAs for housing.

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