Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Indiana

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Getting Emotional Support Animal in IndianaGetting an emotional support animal in Indiana: the laws are changing this year, so understanding what this means for you and your emotional support animal is vital. Unlike service animals, an ESA is not individually trained to perform specific tasks for a person with disabilities, like a guide dog. An ESA can positively affect a person’s mental and emotional well-being, such as supporting sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD, social anxiety, depression, and more.

Emotional Support Animal in Indiana: Specific Protection

The new laws in Indiana are being introduced to try and cut back on ESA fraud, something the state is taking very seriously. This means you will need to make sure you fully comply with the new regulations to keep your ESA rights.

The new law dictates that you need to have at least 1 therapy session before you get your ESA letter. To ensure that you comply with this, we’ve added 1 therapy session before your ESA consultation and 2 afterward the Certapet process.

Definition of Assistance Animal

In Indiana, an assistance animal is any type of service animal or ESA. They are an animal that offers assistance to a person with disabilities. This could be pulling a wheelchair and fetching items the person cannot grasp, or providing therapeutic and emotional support.

Service dog helping a blind man on a pedestrian crossing in Indiana

A service animal and an ESA are not the same, despite them both being assistance animals. A service animal has been trained to perform a specific task, while an ESA is untrained. Your ESA simply provides emotional support by being there for you.

An ESA is simply for therapeutic benefits; however, they are not therapy animals. Therapy animals don’t qualify for reasonable accommodation, and they also need to be a specific type of animal.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Indiana: Certapet’s Simple 5 Min Process

Woman holding emotional support cat at home in Indiana

When trying to get your emotional support animal in Indiana, you need an ESA letter from a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP). An ESA Letter from CertaPet will declare:

  • Recognition that you are a patient on a case-by-case basis under a licensed mental health professional’s care for mental or emotional disabilities.
  • Verification that you are significantly limited by an individual disability, such as depression or a similar condition, affecting your mental well-being.
  • Prescription for an emotional support dog (also known as a companion dog), or another support animal, as a necessary reinforcement for your mental health.

Your disability must be limiting your ability to function. Severe social anxiety, PTSD, and other mental illnesses that have a huge impact on your ability to go about day-to-day activities, for example. You also need details on how the ESA will help you overcome these issues. Certapet ensures that your ESA letter covers everything it needs to – in detail!

Sounds like a lot of work, but actually you can find out if you’re eligible for an ESA in under 5 minutes! Check out our pre-screening process here.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Although ESAs are not covered under the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act), they do come under the

  • A letter from a mental health professional which provides:
    • Recognition that you are a patient on a case-by-case basis under a licensed mental health professional’s care for mental or emotional disabilities.
    • Verification that you are significantly limited by an individual disability, such as depression or a similar condition, affecting your mental well-being.
    • Prescription for an emotional support dog (also known as a companion dog), or another support animal, as a necessary reinforcement for your mental health.
  • At least 48 hours’ notice
  • All the required forms – more airlines are requiring more forms for you to fill out. Take a look at Delta airlines requirements for example. Check out our blog to find more details regarding other US airlines.

It’s always wise to contact the airline in advance to make them aware that you will be traveling with your ESA and arrange for all the necessary paperwork to be completed before you travel.

Employment Laws

For owning emotional support animal in Indiana, an employer cannot discriminate against you for having a disability; however, the only federal laws that apply to ESAs are the Air Carrier Access Act and Fair Housing Act, giving you reasonable accommodations for housing and flight travel. A service animal can be taken into any public place, while an ESA is only allowed into places where pets are allowed, which depends on the establishment. Read below to see where they are allowed and not!

So, while the legislation does not cover you bringing your ESA to your place of work, it does say that you are entitled to fair treatment without discrimination and that the employer must take steps to ensure you are fully accommodated.

Generally, ESAs are not allowed in the workplace, but you can always ask your employer to make an exception! They may say yes straight away or ask to see your ESA letter, it really depends on your employer.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

The Fair Housing Act in Indiana (and every other US state) very clearly states that a person’s landlord must allow that person to live with their ESA without any additional pet fees. Your landlord cannot discriminate against you because of your ESA! This law hasn’t changed, so all you need to focus on is the new law regarding the therapy session and ESA letter.

You can read more about landlord rights here.

Exception to Rules

If you cause harm to your animal, or your animal is threatening or harming those around it, you may be denied access to public spaces and charged for any damage that occurs.

There are other very clear exceptions to the rules – for example, if you own your property, you won’t need permission to live with your ESA. If pets are allowed in the workplace and your employer is comfortable with your ESA staying with you during working hours then they may not request to see your letters and documentation.

Regardless, it’s always advisable that you have all the right documentation and letter that states your disability and need for the ESA. This will ensure you aren’t wrongly accused of ESA fraud.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

The new laws to be introduced for emotional support animals in Indiana state that anyone who misrepresents an animal as an ESA, or misrepresents their disability to obtain an ESA, is committing a Class A infraction (the punishment for which is up to a $10,000 charge).

Imitating persons with disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder/anxiety/depression/etc, to obtain an ESA is breaking the law. Putting a service dog or even emotional support dog vest on an ordinary pet who is not legally an ESA and pretending they are an ESA to avoid paying fees is also breaking the law.

The punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal in Indiana is similarly severe.

4 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. The ESA letter applies to the person, not the animal. It declares that you are in need of the ESA.
  2. There’s no such thing as an ESA certification or registration – if you find websites offering this, it is usually a scam. A “certification” won’t hold up in court. A legitime letter from an LMHP will hold up in court and ensures your rights with regards to the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act. For more info on the differences between a legitimate letter and a fake certification here.
  3. ESAs cannot be taken into public areas like service animals. That means you can’t take your ESA to places like the park, restaurants, your workplaces, on public transport or the library, unless the establishment is pet-friendly.
  4. You don’t need to (and can’t) buy a special ESA pet. Any pet, existing or not, that will provide you with emotional support is an ESA. Whether that’s your trusty pet snake or one of the puppies or kittens in the nearest rescue shelter, if it will provide you with the support it’s an ESA.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Getting an emotional support animal in Indiana can possibly change your life. ESAs can help veterans, kids, adults, parents and any other individual who is suffering from a mental disability or has been through great trauma.

As your ESA does not need any specialized training, all that’s needed is to find an animal you bond with for emotional well-being. Finding your emotional support animal is like finding a friend in a very lonely world. Animal shelters and pet stores are great places to look for an emotional support animal in Indiana.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal in Indiana

Emotional support animals in Indiana can go more than just your home! You can take your ESA to any pet-friendly place in Indiana! Here’s a list of some great places to check out, where you can relax with your companion animals and meet like-minded people.

Dog Parks and Pet Runs

There are plenty of large dog parks in Indianapolis and further afield, where you can let your ESA off the leash:

  • Broad ripple dog park – Indianapolis
  • Paul Ruster dog park – Indianapolis
  • Pawster Park – Fort Wayne
  • Karst Farm dog park – Bloomington
  • Bark park at Creek Ridge County Park – Michigan City

Pet-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

For your emotional support animal in Indiana, there are plenty of upscale restaurants, like Café Patachou in Indianapolis, and relaxed bars, like Bridges Waterside Grille in Michigan City where you can take your service dog or emotional support animal in Indiana.

If you find a restaurant, pub or bar that you want to visit with your ESA, check if they have outdoor seating! Many establishments who don’t have a policy for pets may allow you to bring your ESA when you sit outdoors – check before you arrive.

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas for ESAs

From pet groomers to doggie hotels and spas, you’re most likely to find resorts for you and your ESAs in the major cities; Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Evansville etc.

You need to do some thorough research into each spa, fitness resort and daycare center before entrusting your pet to them. Ask to see qualifications and read all the reviews online to see if they are all they claim to be.

Pet-Friendly Events

For emotional support animals in Indiana, they don’t have many large dogs shows that you can attend, but you’re sure to find local meets and greets held by non-profit organizations where you can take your dog. Get talking at the park and pay attention to local newspapers and bulletins to discover what’s happening near you.

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

LMHPs in Indiana need to be qualified with a license from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, which should be renewed every year that’s an even number. When picking an LMHP, make sure they renewed their license this year (2018) before March 31st, the deadline.

If you can’t find a reputable, qualified LMHP near your home, there are still options available!

Our telehealth therapy service, for example, puts you in touch with an LMHP who can practice in Indiana. This is a great option for those with serious disabilities (both mentally and physically) who can’t leave the house but are in desperate need of an ESA letter.

Although the new fair housing act and ESA regulations in Indiana might seem tough, they are here to weed out the ESA fraudsters who take advantage of this scheme. You can easily ensure that you have an ESA letter for your emotional support animal in Indiana with Certapet.

And with our help, you’ve got nothing to worry about for your emotional support animal in Indiana!

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