Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Washington State

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: April 21, 2023

scenic image of washington state nature

The rainy Pacific Northwest winters can put a damper on anyone’s mood. They can make it harder for people with mental or emotional disabilities to live their day-to-day lives. That’s why getting an emotional support animal in Washington state is such a great idea. Those with a mental illness will benefit greatly from the company of these furry animals. It’s no coincidence that therapists prescribe them as part of therapy!

Keep reading to learn more about what an emotional support animal (ESA) is and what ESA regulations exist in Washington state.

Emotional Support Animal in Washington State: Specific Protection

Washington state law protects persons with disabilities. Thus, they recognize how important emotional support animals are for their owners. That’s why there are laws protecting these animals and their humans from discrimination.

Keep in mind that a service dog and therapy animals follow different laws. It may not seem like there’s much of a difference, but there is.

Definition of an Assistance Animal

An assistance animal helps its owner with a variety of tasks. It’s an umbrella term that applies to many different animals. Service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs are all considered assistance animals. Despite this, they’re all different.

A service animal goes through extensive training. This is so that they can perform specific tasks for their owners, for instance, opening doors or pressing buttons in an elevator. You’ll always see a service dog with a physically disabled person. A guide dog, for example, helps their visually impaired human companion cross streets every day.

Therapy dogs, on the other hand, visit people in public settings like hospitals and nursing homes. They usually belong to a nonprofit organization and their job is to cheer up everyone they come in contact with. Children with severe diseases, in particular, love a therapy animal’s company.

Lastly, we have emotional support animals. They help people with mental health problems live a better life. Those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression benefit greatly from their presence. These companion animals are the best friends one could ever ask for.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Let’s welcome this federal law with a round of applause. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) lets you travel with your emotional support animal by plane. It doesn’t matter what breed of dog or cat you’re taking on the trip with you: they’re all welcome. At least, according to the Department of Transportation, which does not always align with an individual airline’s ESA policy.

You won’t have to pay a pet fee since ESAs are not pets. But you will have to follow the airline’s emotional support animal policy. You’ll also have to show your ESA letter to airline personnel and provide some additional documents. As long as you have those with you, it’s smooth sailing (or flying?) from there.

cute ESA puppy wearing sunglasses in travel case

Employment Laws

Unfortunately, there is no law saying you can take your emotional support buddy to work with you. Your workplace doesn’t have to provide reasonable accommodation for your companion. That’s because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t apply to ESAs: it’s one of those service animal laws.

None of this means you can’t talk to your boss or manager about making an exception for you. Explain to them that you’re more productive when you’re around your ESA. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects you as a tenant with a mental health disability. Your housing provider (or landlord) has to let your ESA live with you. This applies to virtually all rental housing, big and small. It’s one of the many perks of getting an emotional support animal in Washington state. And the best part? You won’t have to pay a pet deposit or a monthly pet fee!

ESA Campus Housing

Are you attending a university or college? If so, you can still live with your emotional support animal in Washington state. Students with mental or emotional disabilities have equal opportunity when it comes to campus housing. Yes, even if their ESA is coming to live with them. Talk to your housing provider, show them your ESA letter, and that’s that. There’s no need to pay a hefty pet fee.

Exception to the Rules

Getting an emotional support animal in Washington state already has tons of advantages. But it doesn’t grant you the right to do everything you please. As with all civil rights laws, there are limitations to what’s allowed.

For starters, you can’t take your ESA into public places that aren’t pet-friendly. Secondly, if you mistreat your ESA, they’ll be taken away from you. Also, if your companion disturbs other people or threatens them, they’ll lose all their rights.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

Sadly, many people take advantage of these emotional support animal laws. Pet owners sometimes pass off their pets as ESAs or service animals and lie to a landlord in order not to pay a pet fee. That’s illegal in Washington state. If they’re caught, there will be consequences.

woman cuddling her emotional support cat

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

We bet you’re interested in getting an emotional support animal in Washington state by now. But there are some things you need to know before you start the process.

  1. Only a licensed mental health professional can issue an emotional support animal letter. This applies to a therapist, psychologist, and psychiatrist.
  2. If you don’t have an emotional support animal letter, you can’t reap the benefits of the FHA or ACAA.
  3. There’s no such thing as a “national service animal registry.” To get your ESA, you need an ESA letter.
  4. ESAs are for individuals with disabilities identified by the DSM-5.
  5. An emotional support animal can only go into pet-friendly public places.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Washington State: CertaPet’s Simple 5-Minute Process

CertaPet is here to connect people with mental health problems with their furry companions. That’s why we make the process of getting an emotional support animal in Washington state hassle-free.

To get started, take our 5-minute pre-screening test. Based on the results, we’ll connect you to a licensed mental health professional. They’ll have an appointment with you and may issue your ESA letter if you qualify.

What Is an ESA Letter?

We talk a lot about having an “emotional support animal letter.” But what does that mean? In a nutshell, it’s an official document proving your animal companion is an ESA and not a pet. It holds up in court if you ever run into any problems with a landlord or airline.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA?

You can’t buy an emotional support animal in the United States. That’s because what makes an ESA is the ESA letter. In other words, you can’t buy an “accredited” pet—that doesn’t exist!

Many types of animals can become ESAs, but cats and dogs are the most popular. They don’t make waves with an airline or landlord, which saves you a lot of trouble. Plus, they can easily bond with humans and help them manage their mental illness.

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal

Your ESA can only go into pet-friendly public places. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean they’ll have to stay at home all the time. You can take your assistance animal with you on social outings or on any fun outing!

man with emotional support animal in washington state dog park

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Let Fido release all his pent-up energy and play with other pups at these dog parks:

  • Warren G. Magnuson Park Off-Leash Dog Area, Seattle
  • Olympic National Forest, Olympia
  • Howarth Park, Everett

Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

Why not grab a bite at one of these cozy, tasty restaurants?

  • Norm’s Eatery and Ale House, Seattle
  • Engine House 9, Tacoma
  • The Tipsy Cow, Redmond

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

Spend a relaxing couple of days at one of these pet-friendly hotels:

  • Alexis Hotel, Seattle
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites, Spokane
  • Ocean Crest Resort, Moclips


What better way to make new friends than by going to a pet-friendly event? We’re sure you’ll meet lots of interesting animal lovers. It’s also a good way for Fido to socialize and play with other dogs.

A quick search on Facebook or Google will show you all the events going on around you in Washington. There’s always something going on, so make sure to constantly check!

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

You can get your emotional support animal in Washington state today. All you have to do is take our free pre-screening test and we’ll handle the rest. You’ll have an appointment online via video chat with a licensed therapist. They’ll assess your mental state and, perhaps, issue your ESA letter. That’s great news, as you could hold your new furry pal in your arms in no time!

Common Questions on Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Washington State

Who can get an emotional support animal?

Will my landlord charge a pet fee for my ESA?

What animals can become ESAs?

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