Today it’s not uncommon to know a family member or friend with an emotional support animal. As time goes on, more and more airlines, landlords and people in general are realizing the positive effect ESAs truly do have on a person with an emotional and/or mental disability. But to begin, what makes an emotional support animal an emotional support animal? And what laws, rules, and exceptions must you know before owning one – specifically on the South Side of the George Washington Bridge? Read on to learn all about it and more about getting an emotional support animal in New Jersey.
Emotional Support Animal in New Jersey: Specific protection
All animals that provide some form of service—be it physical, emotional, or mental—will be warranted protection under the state laws. An emotional support animal ESA, in particular, will be protected under the Air Carrier Access Act and Federal Fair Housing Act.
Definition of Assistance Animal
To get a better understanding of what makes up an emotional support animal in New Jersey, it is better to familiarize yourself with the general term: assistance animal.
An assistance animal is an animal that provides some sort of help to a person with disability. Generally, we classify assistance animals as a service dog, psychiatric service animal, or emotional support animal.
A service animals are often dogs that are trained to perform specific tasks (in some cases mini horses) – like guide dogs are a great example! Seeing-eye dogs like Golden Retrievers and Poodles are trained to assist people with physical disabilities like blindness.
Psychiatric service animals are also often dogs that may require training to help those with severe, debilitating psychiatric disorders. For example, a person with post-traumatic stress may acquire a psychiatric service animal to block active, negative episodes of PTSD.
Now, an emotional support animal is distinctly different from the service animals we mentioned above. The major difference is that an emotional support animal does not require any training to be certified as an assistance animal. And, this is solely because an emotional support animal is there to provide emotional well-being to those who suffer from mental illness.
How to get an Emotional Support Animal in the New Jersey: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process
If you’re ready to get an emotional support animal in New Jersey, then it can take no more than a few minutes of your time. Here is CertaPet we offer a simple and free 5-minute pre-screening that allows our LMHPs to evaluate your current emotional state.
If by the end of the pre-screening you are deemed a good candidate for an ESA then you’ll be directly connected to a licensed mental health professional. Remember it is the mental health professional who will further talk with you and provide you with an ESA letter once they approve you would suit from having one!
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
If you’re about to take a nice long trip to around the country, then how could you leave man’s best friend behind or better yet your prescription to fly calmly and safe? Fortunately, if you have an emotional support animal in New Jersey, then you’ll be protected by the Air Carrier Access Act.
This law enstates that those with any assistance animals—including ESAs—will be permitted to bring their animal onboard the flight and in cabin. However, in order to be eligible for the Air Carrier Access Act, owners of an ESA need to provide the following documentation:
- A letter from a licensed mental health professional
- Provide any documents required by the airline
- Give a minimum of 48 hours notice to the airline, indicating that you would like to fly with your ESA
- Ensure your ESA is well-behaved on flight
As we mentioned above, emotional support animals are not service animals. Therefore, they are not going to be protected under the Americans with Disabilities law.
So, your employer is under no legal obligation to allow your ESA into the workplace. Nevertheless, if you believe your ESA does better you as a whole, can behave well, and can improve your work performance then talk to your employer! Reasonable accommodation can be made on a case-by-case basis.
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
The Federal Fair Housing Act protects those with service animals as well as an emotional support animal in New Jersey. This law states that landlords and homeowner’s association must provide reasonable accommodation to those with an emotional support animal.
ESA Campus Housing
Fortunately for students, the federal Fair Housing Act also extends to university and campus housing. Students who provide a valid ESA letter will be allowed to bring their ESA to on-campus housing. However, ESAs will not be permitted in lecture theaters and public facilities.
Exception to Rules
Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal
Misrepresenting an emotional support animal or in fact, any guide dog is a crime in many states. The majority of the states punish those who misrepresent people with disabilities and service dogs.
In the state of New Jersey, the punishment may be a fine that can cost anywhere from $100 to $500. As of 2018, the state of New Jersey has not made any statements regarding the punishment for misrepresenting ESAs.
3 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
- An emotional support animal can be any animal! Emotional support dogs, emotional support cats, and even Miniature horses!
- The purpose of an emotional support animal is to provide safety and comfort to those suffering from conditions like depression and anxiety – they are not classified as pets as they have a purpose on helping their owners in tough situations.
- Be ware of the ESA scammers out there! Anything asking you to “certify” or “register” your pet is a big no no. You must be prescribed a legal emotional support animal letter once your licensed mental health professional approves you would benefit from one.
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
Some good places to start looking for an emotional support animal in New Jersey can be:
- Your local animal shelter
- Local reputable breeders
- Private pet rescues
Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal
All working animals need a break! So treat your ESA to some fun time by taking them out to the beach, park, or a pet-party!
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
Reward your ESA dog by taking them to the dog park! Check out these pawesome parks:
- Timber Creek Park—Blackwood, NJ
- Wolf Hill Dog Park—Oceanport, NJ
- Freedom Dog Park—Medford, NJ
Dog-friendly restaurants and bars
Not sure which restaurant to choose tonight? Check out these dog-friendly restaurants in NJ:
- Wonder Bar—Asbury Park, NJ
- Brickwall Tavern & Dining Room—Asbury Park, NJ
- Blue Pig Tavern—Cape May, NJ
- Dogtooth Bar & Grill—Wildwood, NJ
Resorts, fitness, and spas
Are you coming to New Jersey for a short vacation? Check out these pet-friendly hotels and resorts:
- Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel—Atlantic City, NJ
- Snowboat Hotel—Atlantic City, NJ
- Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel—Asbury Park, NJ
Get those calendars out! If you’re in NJ then check out these puptastic events:
- Paws in the Park at “Barkwater” Beach
- Dogs Gone Wild Fall Fest
- Friday Night Bites
ESAs in New Jersey: How to Get Connected with a LMHP in Your State Today!
Getting an emotional support animal in New Jersey does not have to be a difficult task. All you have to do is take the quick 5-minute pre-screening and connect with a licensed mental health professional. It doesn’t take long and if you’re approved, you could get an ESA letter in 48 hours!