14 September, 2018

Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Wichita, Kansas

emotional support animal in Wichita law guideAre you thinking of getting an emotional support animal in Wichita, Kansas? These amazing animals can be such a source of comfort and love for people with an emotional and/or mental disability, but how should you go about having one for yourself? And what exactly do they do? Get the answer to these questions and more right here!

Emotional Support Animal in Wichita, Kansas: Specific protection

The first step to getting an emotional support animal in Wichita is to read up on what an emotional support animal is, what they do and don’t do, and where they are and aren’t allowed. Don’t worry, we’ve rounded it all up for you here.

Definition of Assistance Animal

An emotional support animal (ESA) is classified as an assistance animal. What is an assistance animal? The short answer is “an animal that helps people with medical needs.” The longer answer is that there are many different kinds of assistance animals, which help with different needs.

The three most common types of assistance animals are:

1. Emotional support animal

  • Also known as psychiatric service animals or companion animals
  • Can be any kind of animal, including cats, dogs, and even miniature horses.
  • Not specially trained, and cannot be “certified”
  • Offers support to people with an emotional, mental, or psychiatric disability: for example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks or depression.
  • Covered by two assistance animal laws (see below for more).

2. Service animal

  • Usually a dog
  • Trained to perform a specific task for an individual with a physical disability
  • Examples of services dogs include a guide dog that helps someone with a visual impairment, a hearing assistance dog to help deaf people, seizure assistance dogs that can predict fits, or dogs that help with mobility-related tasks for wheelchair users
  • All assistance animal legislation applies to service dogs; they are the most protected by law.

3. Therapy animal

  • Can be any kind of animal, but therapy dogs are most common
  • Animals that are trained to go into schools, hospitals, senior housing, etc. for animal-assisted therapy
  • Not covered by any assistance animal legislation.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Wichita, Kansas: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process

  1. Make sure you’ve read up on what emotional support animals do, and whether you think you need one!
  2. See if you qualify for an ESA. Certapet has a free, quick and easy pre-screening process that can help you see if you will be eligible for an emotional support dog. It only takes a few minutes!
  3. If you’re eligible, Certapet will connect you with a licensed mental health professional in Kansas, or any other state. You will have a consultation with the LMHP, and if they judge that you could benefit from an ESA, you could have your ESA letter sent out within 48 hours. It’s that easy!

esa in wichita kansas apartment with owner

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination by commercial airlines. Part of the Act refers to traveling with assistance dogs, including both service dogs and emotional support dogs.

Under the ACAA, owners may bring their service animal or ESA inside the cabin on a commercial flight, even if the airline does not ordinarily allow pets. The assistance animal travels free of charge.

An important point to note, however, is that following recent negative press on owners attempting to pass their pets as ESAs, many commercial airlines have tightened their rules on emotional support animals.

Now, when flying on most airlines, passengers with an ESA must supply an ESA letter and veterinary certificates up to 48 hours in advance of flying. We recommend checking with your airline well in advance of flying with your ESA to ensure you know what paperwork to supply. See below for lots more information on ESA letters.

Employment Laws

emotional support dog in Wichita apartment helping owner

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities. Part of the ADA’s legislation is that employees must allow service dogs into the workplace, making reasonable accommodation to support them. However, the ADA does not cover ESAs. Some employees may allow ESAs into the workplace on a case-by-case basis with an ESA letter, but they are not obliged to.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects people with disabilities in rented accomodation, and protects against discrimination by landlords. The FHA guarantees the rights of people with both service dogs and emotional support animals to keep them in their home.

However, some housing providers will require a valid ESA letter.

ESA Campus Housing

University and college campus housing is also covered under the FHA, so students with service dogs or emotional support animals should be able to live with them. Again, an ESA letter may be required.

Exception to Rules

Unlike service dogs, ESAs are not permitted into private businesses (such as restaurants and shops) unless the establishment is pet-friendly. ESAs must be able to behave properly in public accommodations, and may be denied entrance if they are acting aggressively, if they are disruptive (such as barking, howling or jumping), or if they are unclean and emit a foul odor.

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

In Kansas, falsely claiming that an animal is an assistance animal of any kind, including an emotional support animal, is a class B nonhuman misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

Before getting an emotional support animal in Wichita, make sure you’re familiar with these key facts:

  1. An ESA is not the same as a service dog, and they are not permitted to as many places either. If you missed the definitions of both ESA and support animals, scroll back up to have a look.
  2. There is no way to “certify” an emotional support animal. Any service that claims to do so is a scam!
  3. Although ESAs do not need to be specially trained, they must be trained to behave properly around other people and dogs.
  4. The only way to get an emotional support animal is to be prescribed one by a licensed mental health professional, who must have a valid license for your state. The LMHP will write you an ESA letter. For example, to get an emotional support animal in Wichita, you must get an ESA letter from a LMHP licensed to practice in Kansas. See below for more information on ESA letters.
  5. ESAs do not need to wear a vest or harness identifying them in public places, though many ESA owners choose to put one on their animal to avoid confusion.

What is an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is an official document that proves the patient’s need for an ESA. To be valid, it must be less than a year old, and written on letterhead paper or a prescription pad from a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional. The ESA letter must state the following:

  • That you have a diagnosed mental health condition or mental health-related disability
  • Your emotional support animal is necessary for your mental health or treatment
  • The type of animal
  • That the issuer of the letter is a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional, and that you are under their treatment or care for a mental health disability
  • The issuer’s license number, type of license, the license issue date, and the state or jurisdiction where it was licensed.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Unlike service dogs, which are specially trained, usually by non-profit groups, any well-behaved animal can become an emotional support animal. If you’re looking to get an emotional support animal in Wichita, Kansas, why not try looking at a local animal shelter?

These places are full of potential emotional support cats and dogs with lots of love to give! Try the Kansas Humane Society at 3313 North Hillside Street, or Wichita Animal Shelter at 3303 North Hillside Street.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

It may not be the world’s largest city, but are loads of great pet-friendly places to go with your emotional support animal in Wichita. We’re just scraping the surface here!

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Give your hardworking ESA a chance to let off some steam and meet some other dogs with a trip to the dog park! Try Chisholm Creek Pet Resort Pup Park, Chapin Dog Park or Meridian Dog Park.

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

What better way to treat your ESA, and yourself, than with a trip to a dog-friendly restaurant or bar? Luckily, Wichita has plenty, including Pumphouse, Wichita Brewing Company and Pizzeria, and Fetch Bistro.

Resorts, fitness, and spas

Can you think of anything better than relaxing with your ESA? Try one of Wichita’s dog-friendly hotels and resorts, like the Hampton Inn Wichita East, the Drury Plaza Broadview Wichita, or the Red Roof Inn Wichita East.

Events

Wichita’s Sedgwick County Park hosts the annual Woofstock festival, which is not to be missed! The next one is coming up on October 6th from 10am to 3pm. Get out there and meet some dogs!

ESAs in Wichita, Kansas: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!

If you’ve decided that an emotional support animal in Wichita is right for you, Certapet is here to help. We can help you connect with a licensed mental health professional in Kansas today with our pre-screening, which is the most important step towards getting your very own ESA!