Getting an Emotional Support Animal in New York State

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 14, 2021


An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) can be of great benefit to a person who is suffering from depression, anxiety or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  If you are getting an Emotional Support Animal in New York State, read on to better understand what this means for you and your assistance animal.

An Emotional Support Animal goes above and beyond simply being a pet. An ESA provides comfort and support to someone with a mental illness. In New York, people with disabilities are defined as being substantially limited in a major life activity.

Mental disabilities include, but are not limited to, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  If your anxiety or depression renders you unable to live a ‘normal’ life, you might qualify for an Emotional Support Animal.

Emotional Support Animal in New York State: Specific Protection

Emotional Support Animals can be found just about everywhere in the US. However, the rules and regulations that ESAs and their handlers enjoy can vary vastly among states and institutions, not including the two federal laws all 50 states must abide by. ESAs in New York State do not have the same rights as service dogs, so make sure you know where you and your Emotional Support Animal will be welcome.

Definition of Assistance Animal

Assistance Animal is a term that encompasses Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals.

  • Service Animal: A Service Animal is an animal (usually a dog) that is trained to perform specific tasks to help people with disabilities. These disabilities may be physical, mental or sensory. Psychiatric Service Animals, guide dogs for the visually impaired and hard of hearing are included in this category.
  • Emotional Support Animal: An Emotional Support Animal is one that brings comfort and emotional support to someone suffering from mental illness such as anxiety, depression or PTSD.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in New York State: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process.

emotional support animal new york

Are you ready to get an Emotional Support Animal in New York State!

If you want to see whether you qualify to get an emotional support animal in New York, take the free CertaPet pre-screening assessment.

Certapet is a legitimate service that connects patients with LMHPs who are licensed to practice in their states.

The process takes only five minutes.  You will then know whether you are eligible for an emotional support animal!  If so, CertaPet will connect you with a licensed mental health counselor in New York.

After a consultation with your LMHP, you could have your ESA letter sent to you within 48 hours.  So easy!

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

emotional support animal in new york

According to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), as long as all the required paperwork is in order, your ESA cannot be denied access to flights. This takes some planning though, so be sure to have the following documents ready before booking your ticket.

A letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). This letter needs to verify that you do in fact have a mental or emotional disorder which complies with the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It should also confirm that you require the assistance of an ESA, as well as explain the nature of the support that the animal gives you.

Employment Laws

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers may not discriminate against individuals with disabilities. This means that an employer is obliged to allow service dogs into the workplace and make reasonable accommodation to support them.

That being said, this ruling does not cover ESAs. Allowing ESAs or companion animals in a workplace is up to the discretion of the employer and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects people from discrimination when they are buying or renting a house or apartment.  Under the FHA, an emotional support animal is looked upon as a “reasonable accommodation” in a housing unit that has a ‘no-pets policy’.

If you have a valid ESA letter, your landlord cannot discriminate against you because of your ESA.

ESA Campus Housing

Like other housing provider, Universities are included in the Federal Fair Housing Act. If you struggle with anxiety or depression and require an emotional support dog, you will be allowed to take the dog with you into residence halls, university housing or on-campus housing.

Exception to Rules

If your ESA poses a threat to people or animals around you, your rights to have the animal live and travel with you may be revoked.

Examples of undesirable behavior include aggressive behavior, barking, and damaging property. Make sure that your dog is house trained, obedient and well-socialized.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

The state of New York has enacted legislation that makes it unlawful for a person to misrepresent an animal as a service animal or otherwise fraudulently represent one’s self as having a right to be accompanied by a service animal.

7 Facts That You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

1. An Emotional Support Animal is not a service animal, but your ESA does play a vital role in assisting you with your mental or emotional disability.

2. ESAs do not have the same privileges of access to public areas that service animals do. You can only take your ESA to restaurants, parks, your place of work and on public transport if the area is pet-friendly or by prior arrangement.

3. With a legal ESA letter, you’ll be able to travel safely with your ESA on most airlines!

4. Also, a landlord is required to make reasonable accommodation for a person needing to live with an ESA.

5. An ESA letter does not apply to the animal.  It applies to the person.  The ESA letter dictates that the person requires the animal’s companionship to function efficiently in society.

6. Only a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) can give you an ESA letter. The LMHP must be treating you as a patient and must have a license that is up to date and valid in the New York State.

7. It is very important to note that there is no such thing as a certification for an ESA.  Any service that offers to register or certify your ESA is more than likely a scam.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

An ESA does not necessarily have to be a dog.  Your comfort animal could be an emotional support cat or even a miniature horse!  ESAs don’t come with a certificate or qualification in paw.  The only requirement of an ESA is to form a trusting bond with you and to provide comfort and relief to your mental or emotional stresses.

Because an ESA does not need to have any specialized training, you can get an emotional support dog or animal just about anywhere.  The best place to start your search would be at an animal shelter.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

An Emotional Support Animal in New York State does not have to be restricted! There are many pet-friendly places for you and your Emotional Support Animal to visit.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Central Park is an obvious choice if you live in the Big Apple.  You can also try Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Madison Square Park or Fort Tryon Dog Run.

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

With a name like Barking Dog Luncheonette, one would assume, correctly, that your emotional support dog would be a welcome companion at this eatery!  Other restaurants that allow your pooch to join you at an outside table include:

  • Cornelia Street Café
  • Chat Noir, Enid’s and
  • The West 79th Street Boat Basin

George Keeley’s gladly welcomes your pooch to join you for a pint, as do d.b.a, on 1st Avenue and Von Bar in Bleecker Street.

Resorts, fitness, and spas

There are many hotels and resorts that are accommodating when it comes to putting up you and your dog for a night or more. Check online to find the one that will suit you best.

New York Road Runners welcomes dogs to the weekly open runs and invites them to dress up for the themed runs!


An Emotional Support Animal in New York State can have a ball of a time participating in pet-friendly events!

In a bustling city like New York, you will be sure to find plenty of fun events to take your dogs to. Like the World Pup Cup and Lend a Paw Charity Happy Hour!  Get chatting to pet owners that you bump into in the park to find out about local dog-related events.

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

The first step to getting an Emotional Support Animal in New York State is to get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.  Take Certapet’s five-minute pre-screening to see whether you qualify for an emotional support dog, cat or another animal.

If you are eligible for an ESA, CertaPet will then link you up with a licensed mental health professional in New York and you will be well on your way to getting your emotional support animal!

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