Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Louisville

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emotional support animal in louisvilleThe companionship animals and pets can give us in our daily lives is well understood and appreciated by many of us. Did you know if you have a psychological or emotional condition that would benefit from having a companion animal, then you may be eligible for an emotional support animal (ESA)? Here are some things you need to know first about getting an emotional support animal in Louisville, Kentucky.

Emotional Support Animal in Louisville: Specific protection

For people assessed by a qualified mental health professional as being eligible for an emotional support animal in Louisville, there are federal and state laws that offer specific protection for their right to have an ESA with them in rental accommodation and during air travel.

Definition of Assistance Animal

Different icons of kinds of Assistance Animals

In Kentucky, the state legislation uses the term “assistance animals” to refer to what other states and federal laws often refer to as “service animals”. There are differences in the definitions. These depend on the type of assistance the animals may give to individuals with disabilities. Some types of assistance animals are allowed in more public places than others because of the tasks they perform.

  • Emotional support animals provide some level of emotional comfort or support to individuals with disabilities. They do not get given any training to perform tasks for anyone. ESAs provide animal-assisted therapy. That means their purpose is their therapeutic value – their presence may help with a person’s overall health and well-being and mental health. To be eligible for an emotional support animal, an individual must be assessed by a qualified mental health professional to have a psychological or emotional disability.
  • Service animals receive specialized training to perform tasks for people with disabilities. This will be a physical or psychiatric disability that an animal can directly assist a person with. Usually, these are service dogs. For example, a seeing-eye guide dog for someone with a visual impairment. Psychiatric service animals may be trained to recognize specific symptoms of someone being unwell and warn or protect a person with this kind of illness from any risk of harm. Service animals are usually assistance dogs, but in some cases, miniature horses are too! Service animals also usually receive training on how to behave in public places. In Kentucky, service animals are referred to in the legislation as assistance animals.
  • Therapy animals are shared by different people, such as people in residential care, or at a day program. They are not ‘owned’ by an individual, and are not recognized as assistance animals.

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

If you’re now ready to get an emotional support animal in Louisville then where better to start the process than here at CertaPet! We offer a simple five-minute process to help with getting you started on whether it may be of benefit for you to have an emotional support animal in Louisville.

  • Our first step is a quick and easy online pre-screening process to establish whether you may be eligible.
  • You are then connected directly with a Licensed Mental Health Professional in your area. This may be a counselor, clinical social work, or family therapist – a qualified professional who is trained in your State.

ESA letters for housing, travel, or combined, are usually issued within two business days.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

In the US, under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), emotional support animals may fly with their owners in the cabin with them during air travel. However, there are requirements to meet before do so. These are in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone traveling on the flight is considered. Requirements may include:

  • Anyone wishing to fly with their ESA must notify the airline at least 48 hours in advance and supply any documentation requested by the carrier.
  • Airlines may ask for a copy of a recent ESA letter confirming your personal eligibility, dated no more than 12 months prior. They may also ask details on the type and size of animal you have, how you will contain or control it, and evidence of health checks from a veterinarian.

Employment Laws

As in most states, an emotional support animal in Louisville will not protect an emotional support animal under the ADA.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects anyone with a disability from discrimination. However, it does not provide protection for having an emotional support animal with you at work.

That said, you might ask your employer if they allow ESAs in their workplace and come to your own agreement. Some employers do allow emotional support animals in their work environment.

Note that employers are required to allow people with service animals or service dogs at their workplace. Remember service animals are those that have the training to help people with certain tasks and/or get around their immediate environment safely.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

For a tenant, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) provides protection for someone with an emotional or psychological disability to have an ESA in rental accommodation. Under this piece of law, proprietors and property owners must offer “reasonable accommodation” to people with either emotional support animals or assistance animals such as service dogs.

ESA dog sleeping on the legs of Owner in an apartment in Louisville

In plainer language, this means that even if they do not normally allow pets, they cannot refuse someone with an ESA on that basis. There are limited circumstances where a landlord may deny a request for a tenant to have an ESA in their accommodation, and these are listed below.

Property owners and landlords may not charge any additional deposits or fees in advance for someone on the basis they have an ESA. However, tenants are responsible to pay for any damage caused by their emotional support animal if it does do so.

ESA Campus Housing

The accommodation provisions in the Fair Housing Act do also apply to residence halls and on-campus housing. Prospective students need to check individual policies of universities and colleges they wish to attend. All have an application and documentation requirements. Most consider requests on a case-by-case basis.

If approved, institutions may have limitations on the areas an emotional support animal can be on campus. They may also have requirements on animal behavior, their toileting, and containment to make sure they are considering the health and safety of everyone on campus.

The disability services departments of universities and colleges will be able to help with specific information for different campuses.

Exceptions to Rules!

Be aware that even though the different pieces of legislation give people with emotional support animals in Louisville protection, there are exceptions to the rules! These relate to: :

  • Health and safety: If a landlord, accommodation provider or air carrier, can prove there the presence of someone’s emotional support animal may cause risks to the health and safety of others, including injury or damage to property, they may be able to decline a request.
  • Business Operations: If the presence of an emotional support animal would cause a business owner any additional financial or administrative burden, they may decline a request.
  • Damages:  In the circumstances and situations you are allowed to have an emotional support animal with you, will be responsible for any damage they may cause to property or other people.
  • Pet-friendly Policies: Some public places do have a pet-friendly policy that may allow you to have an emotional support animal with you. However, generally speaking, most shared public places such as restaurants and malls, prohibit animals unless they are trained service animals.

The legislation applies to Louisville, and for those considering an emotional support animal throughout the state of Kentucky as a whole.

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

Always, always, be mindful of knowing the type of assistance animal you have and referring to them with the correct term! Mispresenting a service animal or your own condition to obtain one can result in losing your accommodation, or being allowed on a flight.

Many states have introduced legislation that makes it a punishable offense to misrepresent an assistance animal or your need for one. This includes trying to pass off emotional support dogs as a guide dog or trained service animal to take it to public places!

Some people choose to put dog vests on their emotional support animals on flights or other public places so it is obvious that the animal is there for their assistance.

However, be careful of using a vest that says the animal is trained to do specific tasks such as a hearing or guiding. The only legal proof is through formal documentation signed by a medical professional via an ESA letter.

3 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

Three need-to-know facts before getting an emotional support animal in Louisville include:

  1. To be eligible for an emotional support animal, a person must have an emotional or mental health condition. A health professional assesses the person. The range of conditions that an emotional support animal may provide therapeutic value to is broad. Someone with conditions such as stress, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be eligible.
  2. There is legislation that provides protection for people with an emotional support animal. This is directly related to having an ESA with you during air travel and living in rental accommodation. Usually, you need to submit supporting documentation verifying your condition. Sometimes you also need to supply evidence of the animal’s health to the providers of these services.
  3. There are differences between types of assistance animals. Trained assistance animals such as guide dogs are legally permitted in more public places and public accommodations than emotional support animals are. You do need to understand the difference.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Finally, the fun part! It can be a very rewarding process looking for an animal to share your life with. As having an emotional support animal in Louisville does not require the animal to have any specific training, the choice is yours!

  • First, think about the type of animal you most gel with. Knowing the species you prefer is going to help you with where to start looking for your emotional support animal.
  • Cats and dogs are probably the most common, but other animal species can also be emotional support animals. If you love dogs, remember although they do not need specific training to be an emotional support animal, you will need to commit to obedience training around good behavior!
  • Other things to bear in mind are any ongoing costs and budget you need to take care of an emotional support animal. This includes the type and amount of food they eat, and any health care they need regularly including vaccinations.

Some people adopt an animal from a non-profit rescue organization or animal shelter. This is an excellent way to give an animal another chance at life.

woman touching potential emotional support dogs in an animal shelter in Louisville

The City of Louisville runs an Animal House Adoption Center, which re-homes animals from the metropolitan area. If you have a particular pedigree in mind, search for reputable breeders in your area.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal in Louisville

In Louisville, there are plenty of pet-friendly events and places where you may be allowed to take your emotional support animal, especially a support dog.

Do you feel like a bit of exercise, socializing or pampering for you and your pooch, or holidaying in Louisville? Some places in Louisville that welcome dogs include:

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

  • Morton Avenue Dog Park
  • Garbin Brown Preserve and Dog Exercise Area
  • Vettiner Dog Run

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

  • Coals Artisan Pizza
  • Marketplace Restaurant
  • Down One Bourbon Bar & Restaurant

Resorts, fitness, and spas

  • The Seelbach Hilton
  • 21C Museum Hotel
  • Columbus Belmont State Park Campground

Events

  • Bark in the Park
  • The Waggin Trail Festival
  • Paws for a Cause

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

Ready to get connected with a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) in Louisville, Kentucky?! We can help! Start with our online pre-screening process to establish whether you may be eligible for an emotional support animal. Because ESA letters need to be signed off by an LMHP in your State, we will then help you connect with someone from our network of health professionals in your area.

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