Getting An Emotional Support Animal in New Mexico

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 16, 2021

emotional support animal in new mexicoAre you thinking about getting an Emotional Support Animal in New Mexico? Well, it actually can be a fairly stress-free process, if you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. However, there are a few things you need-to-know before you get an ESA and what laws are in place.

First, you need to understand the differences between an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), a service animal or a service dog, and a therapy animal. They have similarities, but they are not the same. You also need to understand any laws that may apply in getting an Emotional Support Animal in New Mexico.

Let’s begin!

Emotional Support Animal in New Mexico: Specific Protection

Under US Federal Law, people with disabilities are protected from discrimination. People who have qualified for having an assistant animal to help with any type of physical, mental or emotional disability have certain rights.

This does vary depending on the purpose of the animal. For an ESA, there are federal laws that specifically protect you in housing and on flights.

Under the New Mexico Service Animal Act, 2013, emotional support animals are not considered service animals. In the State of New Mexico, only dogs trained to do specific tasks for individuals qualify as service animals.

People with a disability who need qualified service animals have additional to have their animal in other types of public places.

Definition of Assistance Animal

Assistance animal in a park in New Mexico

The term assistance animal is often used generally and loosely. However, there are differences in the types of assistance animals give. The type of animal assistance also affects your protection and rights under federal and state legislation.

  • Emotional Support Animals – Assistance Animal!: The main purpose of an ESA is to help with emotional support. Their primary role is to provide companionship to their handlers. There is a range of conditions and mental health disability where a person can benefit from the companionship of a pet. An ESA can be prescribed and appropriate for someone with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and any other mental illness. An ESA does not need any specific training!
  • Service Animals – Assistance Animal!: A service animal is one trained to be able to perform tasks for someone with a physical limitation or disability. For example, a guide dog or seeing-eye dog for someone visually impaired. Service dogs also receive specialized training to recognize and alert their owners to noises and hazards. Psychiatric service animals receive training to recognize specific signs and symptoms that their owner is unwell. Any service dog or service animal’s main purpose is to help their owner be safe in their environment and physically help them through life rather than be just companion animals.
  • Therapy Animals – NOT an Assistance Animal!: A therapy animal is one that may provide comfort and companionship to many people. They are not owned by any one particular individual and do not receive specific training. Therapy animals are often available for interaction with multiple people in care settings. This includes places like day care centers for children and adults, retirement homes, and hospice facilities. In these places, you might see communal therapy dogs and cats enjoyed by many.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in New Mexico: CertaPet’s Simple 5 min Process

If you are looking at getting an emotional support animal in New Mexico, or want to see if you are eligible we can help!

We offer a free confidential pre-screening for you to get started and it only takes a couple of minutes to complete. If your disability qualifies you for an ESA and you decide to go ahead, you will be connected with one of our Licensed Mental Health Professionals (LMHP).

ESA letters are usually completed within 48 business hours.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Under the Air Carrier Access Act you may fly with your ESA. There are provisos though. You need to have the right documentation!

You also need to notify the airline in advance that you are traveling with your ESA. Always check with an airline on their processes, but generally, you will need to:

  • Have an official emotional support letter no older than 12 months old. This must be from a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional. This letter will confirm you personally qualify for an emotional support animal and name your type of animal.
  • Notify your airline at least 48 hours in advance that you intend to travel with your ESA.
  • Airlines may also ask you to provide veterinary evidence that your ESA is healthy. They may ask for information on how you plan to transport your ESA. They may also ask if you have any provisions if your ESA needs toileting during your travel.

Employment Laws

Employers are not legislatively bound to allow someone to have their ESA with them at their place of work, however you may ask. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to treat employees fairly without discrimination.

Most employers want happy employees and so many employers offer flexible working environments. Your employer may allow an ESA at work, if you ask, even though they are not obligated to do so. A service animal is different. An employer cannot refuse a person with a disability who needs to complete tasks and activities via a service animal such a guide dog.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

Under The Fair Housing Act, landlords cannot discriminate against people with physical or mental disabilities or impairments who wish to have an ESA living with them in rented accommodation. Under this Act, an ESA is classed as an assistive animal. Even if pets are usually restricted, landlords must make “reasonable accommodation” for tenants with an ESA. What this means is:

  • Rental accommodation can’t be denied to someone on the basis they have an ESA
  • Advance deposits and fees cannot be charged based on the tenant having an ESA. You can be charged fees if your ESA does damage or soils the property.
  • Landlords can ask for verification that a tenant qualifies for an ESA. This is usually via an emotional support letter from a medical doctor or mental health professional.

If you are a tenant and considering bringing an ESA into your life, be mindful that many property owners may not yet be familiar with the term.

The benefits of having an ESA have only been quite recently recognized and supported by health professionals, so landlords may still be needing familiarization with this practice.

ESA Campus Housing

Are you off to college or University in New Mexico?

Generally, the provisions of the Fair Housing Act apply to university campus residential dorms. However, check with the individual policies of the institution or facility you are attending.

Some institutions in New Mexico recognize that ESAs provide support for people with mental or emotional disabilities and allow them in campus accommodation.

Others policies state they allow qualified service animals only or may help with arranging alternative accommodation.

Exceptions to Rules for an Emotional Support Animal in New Mexico

As with anything, there can always be exceptions to the rules. Some of these include:

  • If a housing provider can prove that an ESA may put others or their property at risk of injury or damage they can refuse an ESA.
  • If your animal causes damage to public property or another person/animal, you can be charged for any damage.

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

When you have any type of assistance animal, it is important you refer to them using the correct term. Two common misrepresentations to be careful of include:

  • You cannot refer to your existing pet as an ESA for accommodation or travel purposes unless you have an ESA letter confirming you personally qualify for this type of support.
  • You cannot misrepresent an ESA or your existing pet as a service animal to get them into public places, housing, or travel. In other words, emotional assistance dogs cannot be passed off as service dogs, or a psychiatric service dog, to get them into a bar or restaurant.

The Service Animal Act in New Mexico is quite specific in its definitions of qualified service animals and emotional support animals. The Act includes provisions under New Mexico law for prosecution of any false presentation of an animal.

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. There are many psychological and emotional conditions people have that can benefit from having an emotional support animal.
  2. There is no one “type” of emotional support animal. An ESA can be any animal that provides emotional comfort to someone with an emotional or mental health disability.
  3. If you need an ESA letter for housing or travel this must be completed by a qualified and licensed health professional.
  4. If you have an ESA animal there are provisions under federal law that protect you from discrimination as a tenant of accommodation and for air travel.
  5. Emotional support animals are not qualified or trained service dogs. You cannot take them to public places such as restaurants, hotels, or shopping malls unless they are pet-friendly.

Where to Find a Suitable Emotional Support Animal in New Mexico!

When you are ready to get your Emotional Support Animal there are many places you can go to search for one.

Remember Emotional Support Animals are not service animals trained to do a “job”. Their role is to provide companionship and comfort to their owners. If you have a favorite type of pet already, then you’re halfway there on whether an Emotional Support dog or other animal is best for you.

ESA dogs inside a cage in an animal shelter in New Mexico

There are many non-profit organizations such as animal shelters and humane societies in New Mexico. These organizations all re-home different types of pets needing a little bit of love and attention.

If you have a pedigree or a particular breed in mind, sites such as American Cat Fancier Association and the American Kennel Club marketplace have listings from breeders that you can filter by State.

Also, think about where you can take your ESA when they need veterinary care and health certificates. Check also whether they have had their rabies vaccination and spay/neuter as appropriate.

You can’t buy or adopt an emotional support animal but rather find an animal that best fits you and your needs then check to see if you qualified for a letter!

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal in New Mexico

It’s not all rules and regulations — the bottom line of any ESA is about relaxation and having fun! If you’re wondering where can you take your ESA in New Mexico, there are plenty of places that are dog and/or pet-friendly.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Do you fancy a run where you can let your dog off the leash? In Santa Fe, there’s:

  • Santa Fe Animal Shelter Dog Park
  • Frank Ortiz Off Leash-Dog Park.

In Albuquerque, try the:

  • North Domingo Baca Dog Park
  • Westgate Community Dog Park.

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

If you’re in the Albuquerque area, consider:

  • Sadie’s of New Mexico
  • The Grove Café
  • Market II Vincino Wood Oven Pizza

In Santé Fe the top 3 dog-friendly restaurants are:

  • Mangiamo Pronto
  • Patio Restaurant
  • The Tea House

Resorts, fitness, and spas

Looking for a bit of pampering in public accommodation for you and your pup? In Albuquerque, you could stay at the:

  • Sheraton Uptown, in Taos at the Lucky Dog Casa
  • Santa Fe at the Hilton Golf Resort and Spa at Buffalo Thunder.

Getting an Emotional Support Animal in New Mexico: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!

Are you looking to get connected directly with Licensed Medical Health Professional in New Mexico to establish your suitability for an ESA?

We can connect you with an LMHP in your area for your mental or emotional disability via our free and confidential pre-screening. This will start you in the process of discovering whether an ESA is right for you.

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