Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Missouri

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missouri skylineGetting an emotional support animal in Missouri is a great solution for a better well-being for those who suffer from an emotional or mental illness. Emotional support animals (ESAs) improve their owners’ lives by providing them companionship through bonding – no matter what the case might be.  Whether you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or other mentally disabling condition then chances are you might qualify for an ESA.

Emotional Support Animal in Missouri: Specific Protection

Having an emotional support animal in Missouri comes with a lot of advantages. Not only will your companion animal help you cope with your mental disability, but the two of you will also be protected by certain protections.

When it comes to housing and traveling by plane, there are two very important laws (Air Carrier Access Act and FHA) that allow you to 1) have your ESA onboard/in apartment despite a “no pets policy” and 2) be exempt from any fees. You won’t need to worry about leaving your furry friend behind when flying in the sky or when looking for a house to rent.

Definition of Assistance Animal

A service dog and a support dog are both considered assistance animals due to the fact that they help their owners function in their day-to-day lives.

You might think that an emotional support dog is the same as a service dog — but you’d be wrong. They are not the same thing and are protected by different laws.

Service animal lying down on grass with a blind person in Missouri

Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks and they often help people with physical disabilities in their daily routine. Think of a guide dog or a seeing-eye dog that help the blind.

Emotional support animals, on the other hand, don’t have to go through training. They keep their owner’s company and provide emotional support (the definition is in the name) through their love and affection.

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

The first step to take in order to get an emotional support animal in Missouri is to see if you qualify as an owner. Here at CertaPet, we’ve come up with a simple pre-screening test you can take. It won’t take you more than five minutes — we promise!

If you qualify for an ESA, we’ll put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional. You don’t need to worry about finding one in your area — we do that for you. They will be the ones to issue your emotional support letter, which you can expect within 48 business hours.

Travel Laws (Air Carriers Access Act)

The ACAA, states that an emotional support animal in Missouri can accompany their owner on a flight in the cabin. This means that as long as you have all your documents, your ESA can travel with you aboard. And, the good news is you won’t be charged any extra fees or denied boarding (unless your dog shows signs of aggressive behavior).

To be protected by the ACAA, you will need to do the following:

  • Have your ESA letter with you, as issued by your mental health professional.
  • Give your airline a notice of at least 48 hours before boarding.
  • Check with your airline if they have any extra requirements (veterinary health form, vet’s signed testimony of animals behavior, vaccination form…)

More and more airlines are requesting additional documents from ESA owners. Make sure you check with us or your airline to see if this applies to you!

Check out our Airline ESA and Pet Policy pages as long with checklist factsheets for each individual airline.

Employment Laws

As we established, service dogs and support dogs are not in the same category. While service animals are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ESAs are not. This means that unlike with service animals, employers don’t need to provide reasonable accommodation for your ESA.

Fortunately, you could try talking with your employer to see if they could make an exception. If you show them your ESA letter and that your mental well-being will improve by their presence, then your employer may allow your ESA to come to work. But, remember, it could work on a case-by-case basis.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

According to the FHA, you can live with your ESA in a rented unit. The Fair Housing Act states that your landlord can’t charge you an extra fee or deny you housing because of your ESA. This is great news for everyone renting with an emotional support animal in Missouri!

However, you still need to do a few things for the law to protect you:

  • You have to show your ESA letter to any housing provider that asks for it.
  • You’ll need to guarantee that your emotional support animal won’t be a nuisance or danger to the neighbors or apartment/house.

As long as you do these things, even properties with a no-pets policy can be your next home!

ESA Campus Housing

Are you living in on-campus housing and have an emotional support animal in Missouri? If so, there’s nothing to fear. University-owned dorms are also included in the FHA. This means that this law still protects you!

You’ll have to follow the same rules as someone renting a house, but you’ll also have the same rights.

emotional support animal in missouri college dorm with owner

Exception to Rules

Having an emotional support animal in Missouri isn’t all privileges. It also comes with responsibilities. There are some instances when these laws might not be applicable to you. Here are some of them:

  • If your ESA causes any material damages, you will have to pay for them.
  • If your emotional support animal is aggressive or too loud, the landlord can evict you.
  • Not showing all the required documents means you won’t be covered by the FHA and the ACAA.
  • Neglecting your ESA’s well-being can be grounds for the state to take them away from you.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

Passing off a pet for an emotional support animal in Missouri has serious consequences. If caught, you could be charged with a class C misdemeanor or a class B misdemeanor if it isn’t the first time. In other states, you could even be fined up to $500 for misrepresenting an ESA!

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

We believe that knowledge is power. This is why we’ve come up with this list of 5 things you have to know before getting an ESA.

  1. ESAs don’t have to be just dogs — they can be emotional support cats or even rabbits!
  2. Don’t confuse a service animal for an emotional support animal. They’re very different things.
  3. The ESA letter is the only thing that will hold up in court. Forget all about “ESA registrations” and “ESA certifications,” these fake ESA documents don’t exist.
  4. Anyone with a mental or emotional disability may qualify as an ESA owner.
  5. Emotional support animal letters are issued by licensed mental health professionals only.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA

All emotional support letters are awarded to you, the owner. This means that you don’t need to look for an “ESA-trained” animal. You will have the freedom to choose the companion animal that will stay with you as an ESA.

If you already have a pet, they could become your new emotional support. If not, you can always go to a shelter and look for a four-legged friend to keep you company. Shelters and animal associations are always looking for new owners!

This is the fun part of the whole process. All you need to do is find an animal you connect well with.

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support dog running while playing with the owner in Missouri

Who doesn’t want to bring their awesome ESA out in public?

They’ll keep you company and will have a blast at the same time. You can meet more dog-loving people, connect over shared activities and much, much more! Fortunately, there are plenty of places you can take your emotional support animal in Missouri.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Let your emotional support dog/pup go for a run and play with other dogs in one of these dog parks:

  • Treecourt Unleashed Dog Adventure Park — Saint Louis
  • Table Rock State Park — Branson
  • Fantastic Caverns — Springfield

Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

Wouldn’t it be nice to grab a bite to eat or go for a drink after work with your ESA? You can do precisely that in one of these dog-friendly establishments:

  • Grinders — Kansas City
  • Old Millstream Inn — Saint Charles
  • Houlihan’s — Columbia

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

Bring your companion animal along to your dream holiday at one of these hotels and resorts:

  • Chateau on the Lake Resort — Branson
  • Hampton Inn St. Louis Chesterfield — Chesterfield
  • La Quinta Inn Joplin — Joplin

Events

Dog-friendly events are the best — for you and your best friend! They can make new friends while you meet dog-loving people. It’s the best of both worlds. Don’t forget to do a quick internet search for dog events near you. The two of you will have a blast!

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

Gone are the days when you had to look through the yellow pages for an LMHP in your area. Here at CertaPet, we connect you with a mental health professional so you don’t have to worry about anything. Simply take our 5-minute pre-screening test and we’ll take care of the rest. If you qualify as an ESA owner, there will be an LMHP to talk to you promptly!

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