Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Indianapolis

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 16, 2021

emotional support animal IndianapolisAn Emotional Support Animal in Indianapolis provides companionship and comfort to sufferers of psychiatric conditions or emotional disabilities. ESAs may offer therapeutic benefits but are not specifically trained to perform tasks.

Indianapolis’s service animal law and the ADA do not make allowances for pets or emotional support animals. As such, owners of public accommodations must allow access to service animals but not necessarily to emotional support animals.

Emotional Support Animal in Indianapolis: Specific Protection

Getting an emotional support animal in Indianapolis means you must know the difference between a service animal and an ESA. The differences are many and they do not always have the same privileges.

The Service Dog Registration of America defines a Service Animal as “…Dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, and even alerting a diabetic individual when their insulin is low. Service animals are working animals, not pets.

The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. This level of training is the legal requirement to label your animal as a Service Animal…”

Emotional Support Animals are however simply animals that belong to people with emotional needs. They are not especially trained and are not subject to legal requirements or protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as are service animals.

When getting an Emotional Support Animal in Indianapolis, rest assured that your animal is protected by two laws. These include the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

However, for Indianapolis and the state of Indiana, a new law went into effect in 2018 stating that you must have one session with your LMHP before obtaining your ESA letter.

Good news though! Certapet believes these laws are what’s best for emotional support animals and their owners. This isn’t just some way to live and fly with your pet free of charge. This is a way of life for ESA owners to have this support and care! That’s why we now added one session before the ESA consultation and two afterward with our own LMHPs.

Definition of Assistance Animal

Service dog in Indianapolis walking with owner

Service animals may also be referred to as assistance animals, or support animals depending on the country and the animal’s function. In Indianapolis, ESAs are not regarded as service animals. A service animal would be any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal.

Emotional Support Animals are a form of assistance animal and are not limited to dogs.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Indianapolis

  1. Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Indianapolis necessitates a prescription from a Licensed Mental Health Professional for a recognized emotional or mental disability.
  2. You do NOT have to register your emotional support animal with an ‘Emotional Support Animal Registration’ service.
  3. CertaPet is a legitimate service that connects patients with LMHPs licensed to practice in Indianapolis

ESA with an old man in Indianapolis

Take advantage of Certapet’s free and simple 5-minute process to see if you qualify for getting an Emotional Support Animal in Indianapolis.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) recognizes any animal that provides emotional support to disabled persons. Carriers may have specific requirements, and it is suggested you discuss this on a case-by-case basis.
Passengers traveling with an Emotional Support Animal will not have to pay for their animal to accompany them on the flight if they produce documentation to prove it is an assistance animal. Over and above 48-hours prior notification before the flight, the following documentation may be required:

  • verified identification
  • a letter from a licensed 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 of a debilitating disability or condition which affects mental well-being,
    • prescription for an emotional support dog, companion dog, or support animal as an assistant necessitated by a mental health condition.
  • other additional forms

Employment Laws

Only service dogs are made allowance for in the workplace in Indianapolis, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not have specific regulations on ESAs. It is worthwhile however to talk to your employer should you think it necessary for your ESA to accompany you to your workplace.

A trial period may be the best way to determine the ESA’s viability in the workplace. Laws prohibit employment discrimination because of a disability and employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation.

Allowing an emotional support animal to accompany a diagnosed individual to work may be considered to be such an accommodation. Should the need for the ESA not be apparent or should the employee not have an obvious disability, employers may request documentation to establish the need.

Documentation may detail how the animal assists the individual to perform their job and how the animal is trained to behave in the workplace. Emotional Support Animals may be barred from the workplace if they pose an undue hardship or a direct threat.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

U.S. federal legislation Fair Housing Act protects individuals and families from discrimination in the sale, rental, financing, or advertising of housing. The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status, and national origin.

FHA applies to Indianapolis since it is a Federal law applicable throughout the US. Landlords may request documented proof of the need for the emotional support animal. The Act disallows the charging of a fee for the animal or a pet deposit, as the emotional support animal is not deemed to be a pet.

ESA Campus Housing

The University of Indianapolis Animals on Campus Policy states “The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for purposes of determining if an animal is a Service Animal under this policy.” This, therefore, precludes emotional support animals enjoying the provisions made for service dogs on campus.

Students interacting with emotional support dogs in an Indianapolis University

Campus Housing does, however, fall under the provisions of the FHA, and as such provides reasonable accommodations for an Emotional Support Animal in University Housing. ESAs are limited to the privately assigned student living accommodation, except when out of these bounds for the purpose of ‘natural relief.’

The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities will determine on a case by case basis, whether an animal is a reasonable accommodation in University Housing.

Requests for this accommodation are subject to:

  • Submission of a completed Disability Accommodations in University Housing Request Form to the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities;
  • Submission of the Accommodation Verification for Emotional Support Animal Form as completed by the student’s medical provider to the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities;
  • Written notification of the decision made to the student applicant after receipt of the Accommodation Verification for Emotional Support Animal Form.

Exception to Rules

Three groups could be exempt from adhering to the FHA guidelines:

  • Single-family homes rented without estate agents or advertising, where the private landlord/owner owns less than three homes at the time;
  • Apartments of four units or less where the owner lives in one of the units;
  • A single room in a home, qualified senior housing, and housing operated by religious or private organizations, subject to certain requirements.

Since these laws are in place to protect all parties involved, the animals must not be a threat to others in any of the situations covered by these laws.

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

Indiana is among the states adopting laws to penalize those misrepresenting an animal as an ESA. Anyone misrepresenting their animal as an ESA or their disability to obtain an ESA will be committing a Class A infraction.

This infraction comes with a fine of up to a $10,000. It is illegal to pass your pet off as an assistance animal to avoid paying fees. It is likewise illegal to pretend to suffer from a disability in order to obtain an ESA.

4 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. Emotional Support Animals are prescribed to the individual person who qualifies according to their licensed health professional.
  2. An Emotional Support Animal is not a service animal.
  3. Emotional Support Animals need their owner as much as the owner needs them. Animals need veterinary care, neutering or spaying, nurturing care and a nutritional diet.
  4. ESAs may be prescribed for depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

ESAs are not trained for specific tasks. You might be lucky enough to already have a pet which is suitable to be your emotional support animal. If not, the local humane society is a great place to start your search. Be very sure that the animal you choose suits your lifestyle and your personality. You will be spending a great deal of time together.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

Getting an emotional support animal in Indianapolis is great because there are so many interesting places and events your animal can join you at.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

  • Broad Ripple Dog Park
  • Paul Ruster Bark Park
  • Waggin’ Tails Bark Park at Louis Jenn Memorial Park

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

  • Petite Chou by Patachou
  • Chatham Tap Restaurant & Pub
  • Brugge Brasserie

Resorts, fitness, and spas

  • La Quinta Inn Indianapolis North at Pyramids


  • Wag N’ Walk
  • 4th Annual Clay Terrace Adopt A Dog Day
  • Woofstock

ESAs in Indianapolis: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your City Today!

Getting an emotional support animal in Indianapolis requires a prescription from a local licensed medical health professional. When picking an LMHP, make sure their license was renewed before the deadline of March 31st (2018).

If you can’t find a reputable, qualified LMHP locally, simply do the screening online through CertaPet.

Getting an emotional support animal in Indianapolis may be all you need to start a life with the support you need.

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