An emotional support animal is so much more than a pet! It is a loyal companion animal that can help you to feel safer and calmer when faced with an emotional or psychological disability. If you’re planning on getting an emotional support animal in Nebraska, you’ll want to start with this handy guide.
Emotional Support Animal in Nebraska: Specific Protection
There are three important pieces of legislation that will protect you when you get an emotional support animal in Nebraska. These are the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA).
These laws are instated to protect the rights of people with disabilities in public places, during travel and when seeking a reasonable accommodation. One of the rights that the Acts protect is the right of individuals with disabilities to bring their assistance animals into places where pets are not usually permitted.
Definition of Assistance Animal
Before getting an emotional support animal in Nebraska, you’ll need to get to know the terminology. An assistance animal is a generic term that describes any animal that helps people with medical or mental disabilities. There are different kinds of assistance animal, which help different people. The legislation on them varies by type.
Firstly, there are service animals. Service animals are highly trained dogs that perform tasks for persons with disabilities. These specific tasks can include being guide dogs or seeing-eye dogs for people with visual impairments, helping to predict epilepsy episodes, and aiding wheelchair users with mobility-related tasks. Most service animals are dogs because they are easy to train!
Secondly, we have emotional support animals. Emotional support animals are also known as comfort animals or psychiatric service dogs and do not require special training. ESAs have a strong human-animal bond with their owners.
This allows them to give support to people with a mental, emotional, or psychiatric disability. Emotional support animals offer emotional well-being to people with all kinds of disorders, including post-traumatic stress syndrome (also known as post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD), panic attacks and depression. Any domesticated animal can be an emotional support animal, including dogs, cats, birds, miniature horses, and even pot-bellied pigs!
Finally, therapy animals are animals you may see in old folks’ homes or hospitals, visiting residents and patients or giving animal-assisted therapy.
Service animals have the most protection under the Acts mentioned above. Some, though not all of the legislation covers emotional support animals. Therapy dogs are not covered.
How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Nebraska: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process
- The first step to getting an emotional support animal in Nebraska is to get clued up on what exactly emotional support animals are, what they do, and whether one is for you.
- The next step is to see if you qualify. Certapet offers a free 5-minute screening process to help you see if you are eligible for an emotional support dog.
- If you are eligible, Certapet will connect you with a licensed mental health professional in Nebraska (or any other state!) and you could have your ESA letter within 48 hours. It’s that simple!
An emotional support letter is an official document that proves your need for an ESA. It must be less than a year old and on letterhead paper or a prescription pad from a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional. The ESA letter must state the following:
- That you have a diagnosed mental health condition or mental health-related disability
- The emotional support animal accompanying you is necessary for your mental health or treatment
- The type of animal you are bringing, and how many
- That the issuer of the letter is a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional, and that you are under their treatment or care for a mental health disability
- The issuer’s license number, type of license, the license issue date, and the state or jurisdiction where it was licensed.
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination by commercial airlines. It covers people travelling with both service animals and emotional support animals. The ACAA allows owners to bring ESAs in the cabin of a commercial aircraft free of charge, even if the airline does not usually permit pets to fly.
In the past year, many commercial airlines have tightened their rules about traveling with emotional support animals. Most carriers now require passengers to supply an ESA letter, and some airlines request additional medical information on the animal.
Some require the passenger to submit documentation 48 hours before traveling. Those traveling with trained service dogs do not need to provide this information.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects against workplace discrimination against individuals with disabilities. As part of the act, service dogs must be allowed within the workplace, and employers must make reasonable accommodation to support them.
The legislation does not explicitly cover ESAs, but with an ESA letter, many employers will accept an emotional support animal in the workplace on a case-by-case basis.
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
The Fair Housing Act protects people with disabilities in accessing housing, including owners of emotional support animals and service dogs. The Act prevents landlords or housing providers from discriminating against tenants with disabilities.
However, a landlord may require an ESA letter before allowing the tenant to keep an emotional support animal.
ESA Campus Housing
The Fair Housing Act includes universities, so on-campus housing is covered. Any student with an emotional support animal is protected against discrimination in university housing. Many residence halls will require an ESA letter.
Exception to Rules
The legislation discussed above has a few notable exceptions, in which case your emotional support animal may not be allowed in certain places. Unclean animals or those that are aggressive or disruptive (barking or going to the toilet inside, for example) may be barred.
Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal
Before getting an emotional support animal in Nebraska, make sure you are aware of the following legislation. It is illegal to misrepresent any animal as a service animal, including an emotional support animal.
Doing so could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and 6 months in jail.
4 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
Before getting an emotional support animal in Nebraska, be sure to read up on the following facts.
- Emotional support animals and service animals are different! Though they are often mentioned in the same breath, legislation treats them differently. For full definitions of both, see above.
- Emotional support animal certification and registration services are fake! Only an ESA letter as detailed below is acceptable evidence of your need for an emotional support animal.
- Only a licensed mental health professional may prescribe an emotional support animal and issue an ESA letter. They must hold a valid license specific to your state, and they must be treating you as a patient for a mental health-related matter.
- ESAs don’t need to wear vests or harnesses that identify them in public. However, we strongly recommend getting one for clarity! However, a vest or ID badge alone is not enough to identify an ESA. Only an ESA letter can do that.
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
Any domesticated animal can be an emotional support animal. The shelter is a great place to start looking for an emotional support cat, dog, or other animals. There are lots of dogs looking for homes with lots of love to give!
You could also train an emotional support dog from a puppy!
Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal
After getting an emotional support animal in Nebraska, you’ll want to take it places with you! Although emotional support animals are not guaranteed to be allowed in public places to the same extent as service animals, there are plenty of dog-friendly places in Nebraska.
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
Take your emotional support animal to a dog run to train it, make doggy friends, and let off some steam! There are some great dog parks in Nebraska, such as Ta-ha-zouka Dog Park in Norfolk and Columbus Bark Park in Columbus.
Dog-friendly restaurants and bars
You and your emotional support dog will need something to eat and drink after all that exercise. Try one of Nebraska’s many dog-friendly restaurants and bars, like:
- Blue Blood Brewing Co in Lincoln
- Nebraska Brewing Company in Papillion, and
- Zio’s in Omaha
Resorts, fitness, and spas
Go further afield and take your emotional support dog to one of Nebraska’s many dog-friendly hotels and resorts. Try the:
- Baymont Inn & Suites Lincoln
- The Ramada Inn Kearney, or
- The Element Omaha Midtown Crossing.
There are lots of doggy events in Nebraska each summer, which can be a great way to socialize your emotional support dog. Omaha hosts regular Tails ‘n Trails Half Marathons, 10K, 5K, & 1-Mile Walks and Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center in Denton hosts PAWS on the Prairie.
ESAs in Nebraska: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!
The first step to getting an emotional support animal in Nebraska is to get connected with a licensed mental health professional. CertaPet helps to put you in contact with reputable licensed mental health professionals in your state, and you could get your ESA letter in as little as 48 hours. Why wait?