Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Kansas City

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 16, 2021

emotional support animal kansas cityEmotional support animals can improve the mental health of people suffering from a common disability like anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder and are more than companion animals. Find everything you need to know about getting an emotional support animal in Kansas City.

Emotional Support Animal in Missouri: Specific protection

People suffering from mental disabilities can be helped by emotional support animals, not only service animals.

If you suffer from a mental disability and believe your emotional well-being could be improved by getting an emotional support animal in Kansas City, it’s important to know how you are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and anti-discrimination laws.

Emotional support animals are more than pets under the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act and have similar rights to service dogs.

It’s also important to understand the difference between a service dog and an emotional support animal.

Definition of Assistance Animal

An assistance animal is a pet that helps different persons with disabilities, either physical or mental. These animals are classified as service dogs or emotional support animals.

In Missouri, a service dog is allowed in any business that operates as a public accommodation.

Service dogs are trained to perform tasks for their handlers with a physical or mental disability (psychiatric service animal).  Service dogs are allowed almost anywhere, as their handlers can not often be without them.

These dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to help their owners. Missouri recognizes miniature horses in special cases as service animals.

An emotional support can be any animal is prescribed by a mental health professional and does not have to be formally trained, unlike a service animal. An assistance dog is allowed in any pet-friendly accommodations as well as in the cabin of an aircraft and in no-pet housing.

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

If you are a person with a qualifying mental disability, getting an emotional support animal in Kansas City is a simple process.

The first step is to take the CertaPet screening to see if you have a qualifying mental disability.  Once you qualify, you will be put in contact with a licensed mental health professional that talk with you and evaluate your disability and need for an emotional support animal.

Once you are finished talking with your therapist, they will send you an ESA letter that can be used for airlines or housing within 48 hours.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

One of the main ways emotional support animals are protected is under the Air Carrier Access Act.

This act allows those with a mental or physical disability to travel with their prescribed emotional support animal in the cabin of the airplane, just like service dogs.

Airlines are becoming stricter about emotional support animals, and some airlines only permit assistance dogs or cats and require additional paperwork besides a letter from a mental health professional.

Employment Laws

Employers in Kansas City are required by law to provide reasonable accommodation to their employees to prevent discrimination. Service dogs that were formally trained to perform tasks like a seeing-eye dog are allowed to accompany their handler into the workplace, but not emotional support animals.

If you think your emotional support animal in Kansas City would provide a sense of well-being in the workplace, you can ask your employer but it is a case-by-case basis.  They are not legally obligated to allow emotional support animals.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

According to the Fair Housing Act and the Missouri Human Rights Act, a landlord, co-op board, or other housing providers can not discriminate against a tenant because of their disability.

Under these acts, tenants cannot be denied housing for having an assistance animal, even in housing that prohibits pets. An owner and their emotional support animal in Kansas City has every right to live with them no matter where it is.

ESA Campus Housing

Campus housing falls under the Fair Housing Act. Colleges and universities in Missouri allow emotional support animals to live with their handler on campus.

The student must talk with the Disability Services to create a reasonable accommodation plan and request assistance. Emotional support animals are not allowed anywhere else where pets are prohibited on campus.

Exception to Rules

Some airlines only allow dogs and cats in the cabin of the aircraft due to animal restrictions. Other animals are not permitted due to safety and/or public health risk.

If a flight is longer than 8 hours, you may have to make a written statement assuring your animal will not need to use the bathroom or can do so in a way that is sanitary.

An airline can deny an ESA if it is too large or heavy for the cabin, is a “direct threat” to the health or safety of others, is causing a significant disruption of the cabin service, or is prohibited from entering a foreign country.

An ESA does not have to be formally trained to perform tasks but must be trained to behave in public.

An emotional support animal can be denied from housing if the animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause significant physical damage to the property of others.

Therapy dogs that accompany a person to hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms, etc are not considered emotional support animals and are not protected by the ADA.  Therapy animals that are not prescribed the person by a mental health professional are considered pets and only allowed in places that allow animals.

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

Misrepresenting a service dog in Kansas City is a class C misdemeanor and a subsequent violation is a class B misdemeanor. A class C Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 15 days in jail or a fine of up to $750.  A class B misdemeanor could mean up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.

4 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. An emotional support animal in Kansas City is allowed to travel in the air cabin with its handler in a plane but must be well behaved.  An ESA can be denied boarding if it is not behaving and is a threat to other passengers.
  2. ESAs have different rights than service dogs.
  3. Misrepresenting an ESA as a service dog is illegal and punishable in the state of Missouri.
  4. All you need is a letter from a Mental Health Professional, the badges, vests, and any other “registries” are optional.
  5. If you want to travel to Hawaii or other countries, you may need to get additional health documents and even quarantine your pet before it is allowed entry into the state or country.

emotional support animal in kansas city airport

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Emotional support animals do not require any formal training, unlike service dogs. Any animal, from a rabbit to a pot-bellied pig, can be an emotional support animal if they provide comfort to a person with a disability.  You must have the animal before you can get an ESA letter.

You can find many animals that will make excellent emotional support animals at local shelters and non-for-profit organizations.  A person can not purchase an ESA like a service dog.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals are not allowed in public accommodations that do not allow pets, only service animals are.  Kansas City has many pet-friendly places and activities to take your emotional support animal.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

There are great on and off-leash dog parks in Kansas City to let your emotional support animal exercise and meet other dogs in the area.

  • Trolley Track Trail
  • Wayside Waifs Bark Park
  • Longview Lake Park
  • Penn Valley Park
  • Swope Park Off-Leash Dog Park

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

Many restaurants allow dogs outside.  Even if you do not see a “pet-friendly” or “dogs allowed” sign, you can ask the hostess or server if you can sit outside with your dog.

  • Lidia’s Italy
  • Westside Local
  • Happy Gillis Cafe & Hangout
  • Brookside
  • Aixois
  • Hi-Dive Lounge

Resorts, fitness, and spas

Your pet can have a lot of fun at local resorts and museums.

  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Three Dog Bakery
  • Westin Kansas City at Crown Center
  • Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza
  • Adam’s Marks Hotel & Conference Center


  • There are many dog-friendly events to have fun with your emotional support animal and enjoy Kansas City.
  • Bark at the Park
  • Dogtober Fest
  • Paws on the Prairie 5K
  • Tails on the Trails Pet Festival and Dog Swim

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

Getting an emotional support animal in Kansas City allows you to travel in the cabin of an airplane and live in housing that prohibits pets.

CertaPet makes the process simple and gives you all of the information you need to know about ESA rights, so you know exactly where you can and can’t bring your ESA.

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