You might want to think about getting an emotional support animal in Jacksonville if you have a mental or emotional disability. Military veterans, people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses can benefit from this human-animal bond. This form of animal-assisted therapy improves their owner’s well-being. On top of that, they’re also protected by two federal laws.
Emotional Support Animal in Jacksonville: Specific Protection
Having an emotional support animal in Jacksonville has a lot of advantages. Not only are they companion animals who offer owners love and affection, but they can also live and fly with them. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) concerns rented housing and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) applies to cross-country and even abroad plane rides. There are some things you’ll have to look out for since an ESA is not a service animal.
Definition of Assistance Animal
Emotional support animals (ESAs) are considered assistance animals. They help their owners cope with their disability in their day-to-day lives. The government sees them as assistance animals, so there are laws in place protecting them.
But there are other animals that fit into the assistance animal category. Service animals, for example, are also assistance animals. They receive professional training in dog trainers schools and perform tasks for people with disabilities. Think of guide dogs or a seeing-eye dog. A service dog is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), while an emotional support dog isn’t.
There are also psychiatric service animals. Although they might sound similar to emotional support animals, they aren’t the same. Unlike ESAs, they are also trained and covered by the ADA.
It’s very important to not get service dogs, therapy animals, or psychiatric dogs confused with ESAs. They are all assistance animals for individuals with disabilities but are covered by different laws.
How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Jacksonville: CertaPet’s simple 5-minute process
You might be thinking that getting an emotional support animal in Jacksonville is a complicated process. You couldn’t be more wrong. CertaPet handles all the boring bureaucracy and paperwork for you. All you really need to do is answer some questions and await your ESA letter arrival!
The first step is finding if you qualify as an emotional support animal owner.
To know that, all you have to do is complete our pre-screening test here.
You’ll be asked to answer some questions, which we’ll analyze. If the result is positive, we’ll put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional in your area. They will be the ones issuing your emotional support letter and you’ll receive it shortly thereafter. In some cases, it only takes 48 hours!
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
People getting an emotional support animal in Jacksonville are allowed to fly with their ESA or service dog. The Air Carrier Access Act states that as long as you comply with an airline’s ESA policy, you can have your ESA with you in the cabin. This also means that you won’t be charged an extra fee to transport your emotional support animal.
For the ACAA to protect you, here’s what you have to do:
- Give the airline a notice of at least 48 hours prior to departure that you’re bringing an ESA.
- Show the airline your emotional support letter, as issued by your mental health professional.
- Check with your airline whether or not they ask for any extra documents.
As long as you do everything the airline requests, you shouldn’t come across any problems. You should also make sure your ESA won’t be a direct threat to passengers or flight attendants. If you can’t, you might be put on the no-fly list.
Unfortunately, employers don’t have to provide reasonable accommodation to an emotional support animal in Jacksonville in your workplace. Since they’re not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they might have to stay home.
However, you could try asking your employer for permission to bring your emotional support animal to work. After all, they help you deal with your mental health problem and could boost productivity. Arguing would work on a case-by-case basis. Who knows, you might be successful!
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
If you’re getting an emotional support animal in Jacksonville and worried about renting a place, don’t stress too much. The Fair Housing Act is on your side. It says that ESA owners can live with their company animals, even in places with a no-pet policy. Your landlord must provide reasonable accommodation for you too and can’t charge you an extra fee. This even applies to assisted-living facilities!
To be covered by this law all you have to do is show your housing provider your ESA letter. They might not ask for it, but it’s always best to be prepared. As long as you do this and guarantee your ESA won’t be a problem for neighbors, you shouldn’t come across any problems.
ESA Campus Housing
Even if you’re a student living in on-campus housing, the Fair Housing Act applies to you. As long as you show those in charge for your residence hall your ESA letter, you shouldn’t have any problems. Don’t forget to also make sure your emotional support animal won’t be a nuisance or danger for your neighbors and roommates!
Exception to Rules
Don’t forget that owning an emotional support animal in Jacksonville comes with responsibilities too! Sometimes, if you don’t comply with what the law states, you won’t be protected by the ACAA and FHA. Here are some of those cases:
- Not showing your ESA letter to an airline or housing provider.
- An invalid or fake ESA letter has no legal value, so you won’t be covered by the ACAA or FHA.
- If your ESA causes any property damages or hurts someone, you’ll have to pay for it.
- Some countries have ESA restrictions, meaning they can be put in quarantine or denied entrance.
Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal
Passing off a pet as an emotional support animal has extremely serious consequences in Jacksonville and in the state of Florida. If you’re caught doing so, you’ll be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. This means that you may be facing incarceration of up to 60 days, a fine of up to $500 or even both!
No one wants to go through this, so make sure you don’t misrepresent an assistance animal. Getting one isn’t that difficult if you truly need one, so why not do it the legal way?
5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
It’s important to know a few things before getting an ESA at home. Here are three facts you should commit to memory:
- ESAs aren’t psychiatric service animals, service dogs, pets, or therapy dogs.
- ESAs aren’t just dogs. You can choose to own one of the many feline breeds for emotional support cats or miniature horses allowed!
- Only trained service dogs are afforded public accommodation without needing the permission of a manager or business owner.
- An emotional support dog doesn’t have to wear a dog vest like a service animal does.
- If you have to go to court for a dispute over your ESA’s rights, it will run on a case-by-case basis.
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
This is the fun part! You get to find the perfect companion animal for you. Since the emotional support letter will be awarded to you and not an animal, virtually any can be your new ESA. As long as they can be accepted by the state as a valid ESA, you have the freedom to choose.
If you have a pet at home, they would be your new companion animal. If not, you can check with a non-profit organization or animal shelters if they have animals up for adoption. You’d be getting a new furry best friend and they would have another shot of living their happily-ever-after!
Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal
Now that you have your loyal furry pal by your side, you can take them out for some fresh air. Luckily, Jacksonville is a great place to own a dog! The city has a lot of parks and public places that are welcoming to dogs and their owners. These are some of the places we recommend in Jacksonville, Florida.
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
Let your emotional support dog run on a grassy area where they can roll around and play to their heart’s content:
- Katheryn Abby Hanna Park & Beach
- Julington Creek Animal Walk
- Ed Austin Dog Park
Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars
Why not go out for a drink or grab a bit to eat with your dog to one of these places?
- The Brick Restaurant
- M Shack
Resorts, Fitness, and Spas
Going on vacation to Jacksonville will be made even better if you check with your Fido into one of these hotels:
- La Quinta Inn & Suites Jacksonville
- Aloft Jacksonville Tapestry Park
- Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront
Nothing makes a dog happier than playing with other animals. Luckily, Jacksonville is the perfect place for this! There are always dozens of events happening year-round that are welcoming to dogs and their owners. A simple Facebook or Google search will show you what’s going on around you in the near future. You can’t go wrong with any of them!
ESAs in Jacksonville: How to Get Connected with a LMHP in Your State Today!
The days of looking through the yellow pages are over. CertaPet will put you in direct contact with a trustworthy licensed mental health professional in Florida. As soon as you finish our pre-screening test, we’ll let you know if you qualify as an ESA owner. If you do, you will be allowed to talk to your assigned therapist and they will write you the ESA letter.
This process isn’t all that hard if you have a disability in Jacksonville. You’ll be holding your adorable emotional support animal in no time!