Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Maryland

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 16, 2021

emotional support animal in marylandThinking about getting an emotional support animal in Maryland? Don’t worry, nowadays it’s easier than ever! The state of Maryland protects your rights as an ESA owner to travel and live with your companion. If you have a mental health condition (such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression) you may be allowed to become an owner.

Emotional support animals (be it dogs, cats, or others) give people with mental disabilities a chance to get better and make their day-to-day lives easier. They can make patients feel less stressed, anxious, and less alone. No wonder so many people are thinking of getting an emotional support animal in Maryland!

To become a protected ESA owner you need a few things. In this article, we’ll go over what you need to do if you’re living in Maryland.

Emotional Support Animal in Maryland: Specific Protection

If you live here, you’ll be protected by two major laws: the Fair Housing Act (FHA), and the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA). These are federal laws that grant you protection when looking for a house and when traveling by plane. Maryland’s disability laws also protect you and your ESA.

Definition of Assistance Animal

Assistance animals are there, well, to assist a person in need! Whether that be physically or emotionally, assistance animals are both service animals AND emotional support animals.

Emotional support animals are psychiatric service animals and they help people with their health and well-being. They are not pets since ESAs and their owners need to be officially recognized.

Service dogs and ESAs are sometimes wrongly lumped together in the same category. However, they are not the same thing. Despite both providing services and help to humans, ESAs are not trained like service dogs are.

While service dogs will help blind people, emotional support dogs will provide comfort to people with some sort of a mental disability. They are companion animals.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Maryland: CertaPet’s Simple 5-minute process

Getting an emotional support animal in Maryland doesn’t have to be a hassle.

Now that you know what an ESA is, you need to find out if you can get one. Luckily, we’ve put together a pre-screening test that will tell you if you qualify as an ESA owner or not. If the test says that you are, you’ll be put in touch with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP).

From here, we will handle everything so that you can get your ESA as soon as possible. The LMHP you’ve been assigned will draft up an emotional support letter stating your need for an ESA and some personal information about you. You won’t have to worry about anything else other than communicating with us.

If everything goes alright, you could have an ESA letter in just 48 hours!

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Are you getting an emotional support animal in Maryland and you’re wondering about flying with them? If so, the Air Carrier Access Act covers you legally.

ESA dog on a plane with ESA owner looking out the window in Maryland

According to the ACAA, ESA owners can have their assistance animal with them on a plane ride, with no extra fee. To be covered by the law, here are the main things you need to have and do:

  • Give your airline a 48-hour notice that you’ll be traveling with an ESA.
  • Your ESA letter as issued by a licensed mental health professional.
  • Guarantee that your ESA will behave during the flight.

Some airlines request extra documents, such as a veterinary health form. You should always check with your airline if they have any extra requirements.

If you comply with all these requirements, you and ESA will have a hassle-free flight!

Employment Laws

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are allowed in public places — workplaces included. Unfortunately, emotional support dogs don’t fit into this category. This means that ESAs are not usually allowed into the workplace.

However, the ADA states that no citizen can be discriminated against because of their disability (mental included). It can be argued that not allowing an ESA in the workplace counts as discrimination. If you present your situation to your employer, they might let you bring your companion animal to work.

This also applies to those getting an emotional support animal in Maryland. To make sure you can argue your case effectively, don’t forget your ESA letter at home.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

Are you renting a place and getting an ESA in Maryland? If so, we’re happy to tell you that the Fair Housing Act (FHA) is on your side.

Those looking for a place to rent in Maryland can rest assured — they won’t have problems finding accommodation for them and their ESA. Landlords have, by law, to provide “reasonable accommodation” for those with a valid ESA letter. This must come with no added fees. ESA owners even have the right to live with their companion in properties that have a no-pets policy.

You will most likely have to show an ESA letter to be protected by the FHA.

ESA Campus Housing

In case you’re wondering — yup, ESA owners living in campus housing are also covered by the FHA. This means that those getting an emotional support animal in Maryland and living on campus are not excluded!

Campus housing counts as regular housing, which is why the FHA also applies to it. Your residence hall will more likely than not request an emotional support letter in order to let your companion animal stay with you.

Exception to Rules

Because ESAs are still quite recent and legislation isn’t very specific, disputes will be heard on a case-by-case basis. However, there are some instances when your ESA owner rights might be revoked:

  • If your dog causes damages, you will be made to pay for them.
  • If your dog can’t behave (violent, aggressive or dangerous behavior), they won’t be allowed in public places.
  • Not carrying all the legal documents that prove the need for an ESA.

As long as you comply with the rules, the size of your emotional support dog does not influence if you’re covered by the laws.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

Unlike 19 states in the country, Maryland does not punish those who pass of a pet as an assistance animal. However, in Hawaii, for example, misrepresentation comes with a fine of up to $2000.

Getting an emotional support animal in Maryland really isn’t that difficult. Why not do it the legal way?

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. Only licensed mental health professionals can write you an ESA letter.
  2. ESA letters are awarded to the owner and not the animal.
  3. There is no such thing as an ESA registration or certificate. Companies promising these things should be avoided, as the documents they provide have won’t hold up in court.
  4. ESAs are not just dogs — they can be miniature horses, cats, and more!
  5. If you don’t treat your animal well, the authorities have the right to take them away from you.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

As long as the animal behaves, they can come from anywhere. You can’t buy an “ESA approved” animal, but you can look in shelters for a potential new furry friend. ESAs don’t need special training, so all you need to look for in a potential one is if they’re the right match for you.

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal!

Maryland’s disability rights, you can bring your ESA with you to public places. You won’t have to stick to only dog-friendly establishments — although these are probably the best options.

They’ll be able to accompany you on a nice afternoon out and provide the emotional comfort you so love. Maryland has plenty of places where you can bring your four-legged friend and have fun!

Emotional support dog playing with owner catching a frisbee at a park in Maryland

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Is your emotional support dog looking forward to running around and make new dog friends? Check out these parks:

  • Assateague National Seashore — Berlin
  • Locust Point Dog Park at Latrobe Park — Baltimore
  • Quiet Waters Park — Annapolis

Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

If you want to enjoy a meal and bring your doggo with you, you might want to check out these places:

  • Macky’s Bayside Bar & Grill — Ocean City
  • Cinghiale — Baltimore
  • Bayside Skillet — Ocean City

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

Looking for a getaway? These places in Maryland are welcoming to dogs:

  • Comfort Suites Ocean City — Ocean City
  • Hotel Monaco Baltimore — Baltimore
  • The Inn at Perry Cabin — St. Michaels


Maryland is a dog-friendly state and there are always dozens of state-wide dog events. Going to one of the events would be a great way to spend quality time with your companion. It would be fun for the two of you!

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

Getting an emotional support animal in Maryland first means reaching out to a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). If you don’t already see one, we have great news for you.

After completing CertaPet‘s five-minute pre-screening (for free!), you’ll be put in touch with a professional if you qualify for an ESA. This way, the whole process of getting an emotional support animal will be put into practice. It’s this simple!

As you can tell, getting an emotional support animal in Maryland has a lot of benefits. Not only will you be comforted by your ESA, but you will also be protected by state and federal laws. With CertaPet’s help, you can get an ESA stress-free. Think of the good times you could have together!

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