Getting an Emotional Support Animal in NYC | (The Definitive Guide)

grand central station in new york city
Those with certain psychiatric disabilities (anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc) may be afforded protection for an emotional support animal in New York, even in housing or employment situations that might otherwise prohibit animals. These legal protections are newer, more limited, and sometimes complicated compared to legal protections for service animals, but specific rights certainly exist.
But getting your companion animal doesn’t have to be so hard…

Getting an Emotional Support Animal in NYC

To become a legal ESA owner in NYC, there are a few things you should know.

What is an Assistance Animal?

To begin, an assistance animal is an animal that provides the necessary care for their owner. This covers both service animals and emotional support animals.
However, emotional support animals differ from service animals because their purpose is to provide therapy to those suffering from an emotional/mental disability such as anxiety or depression. These animals need not to be limited to emotional support dogs; emotional support cats, and rabbits can also provide necessary relief for those suffering from psychiatric ailments.
Second, emotional support animals do not require specialized training as a service dog might. But, documentation proving the disability and the need for the support animal may be required in some instances.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in NYC: CertaPet’s Simple Process

Obtaining your emotional support animal letter shouldn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. With CertaPet’s 5 min Process, you can be on your way to getting your ESA letter within 48 business hours after talking to an LMHP.
To break down the process, here’s a step by step:
1. Take the pre-screening to see if you would qualify for an emotional support animal.
2. If so, CertaPet will connect you with a licensed mental health professional in your state.
3. Talk to them! Tell them why you think you need an ESA. The LMHPs are there to help and want to help you get the furry care you deserve.
4. Once they write your emotional support animal letter, you will receive it within 48 business hours or less!
5. Travel and live with your ESA with no worry at all.
esa owner and emotional support animal in nyc apartment

Emotional Support Animal Laws In New York

Support animals do not receive the same protections as service animals do. While other states, such as California, have more extensive legislation protecting emotional support animals, New York is not so generous. However, federal law offers protections in housing, employment, and travel contexts (particularly air travel).

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA): The ESA Flying Law

The Air Carrier Access Act applies to individuals with disabilities and emotional support animals traveling on airplanes. However, the rules are more strict and individuals with disabilities may be required to present more documentation.
Flying with an emotional support animal in NYC typically requires a letter from a licensed mental health professional, which must explain that a mental health disability exists and there is a need for the animal. The letter should clearly indicate the type of practice (ie license type) in which the health care professional specializes.
The letter should also be under the health care professional’s letterhead and cannot be more than one year old. Finally, you may be required to give 48 hours advanced notices to the carrier.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA): The ESA Housing Law

Landlords must allow renters to live with their emotional support animal in NYC as a reasonable accommodation. This means that a landlord may not evict a renter or even charge a pet deposit for emotional support animals, except under rare circumstances.
A landlord may require a renter with an emotional support animal to show documentation supporting the fact that the renter has a disability and that reasonable accommodation for the support animal is necessary. You may be required to show a letter from your clinician to satisfy this requirement. However, the animal itself need not be certified since no training is required for emotional support animals.

Emotional Support Animal in NYC Employment Laws

While emotional support animals do not meet the federal definition of a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act in the context of public spaces, the Act arguably does apply to employees and job applicants with emotional support animals. Employers cannot discriminate against an employee because of his or her disability and must make reasonable accommodations for the disability.
When the person with a disability has an emotional support animal, employers with five or more employees must make such accommodations. Therefore, despite any corporate policies in the workplace, employers do not have to make an exception for support animals.
But ask away! It’s up to your employer and many allow ESAs at work. However, employers may also require documentation for the need of an emotional support animal.


Legal protection afforded to emotional support animals is limited. In New York, and under federal law, emotional support animals may not be permitted in public places to the same extent as service animals.
Employers also may require that support animals not pose a threat to others in the workplace or create an inappropriate work environment due to lack of house training.
Landlords may deny renters to live with emotional support animals if, even with reasonable accommodation, the animal poses a threat to the health and safety of others or would cause substantial property damage. This exception is very limited; the mere fact that an emotional support animal is large or of a particular breed does not allow the landlord to raise this exception.
The threat to safety or property must be particularized to the animal in question. On the other hand, the amount of damage done by an animal need not be great if it is unreasonable.

Where to Find The Right ESA Near You

Do note: you cannot get an already emotional support animal in NYC. The animal must be yours and then can you get you letter.
esa owner and emotional support dog in new york city apartment hugging
Also note: Certifying your emotional support animal or registering it on any site is FAKE. These scams ruin it for those truly in need of an ESA. All you need is a letter prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. 
So now, you are wondering where to find a suitable near you. It’s simple! Research breeders around your area. You MUST make sure they pass all safety and health concerns of the animal. No puppy mills.
Or you can choose rescue dogs. Many roam the halls of animal shelters looking for a right home for them and you could just possibly find your furever family there. NYC has few just as any city! Look into the ASPCA Adoption Center, Animal Haven, and more!

2 Facts You Cannot Forget About ESAs

  1. ESA certifications and registrations are not real. Looking for a buck, these sites most likely do not have a licensed mental health professional might with you over video. If you can automatically get a “certificate” then chances are the site is a scam. You always need to go through your condition with an LMHP first.
  2. Emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Unless the establishment is pet-friendly, you cannot bring your ESA with you anywhere outside the airport and housing accommodations.

Where Can You Take Your Emotional Support Animal in NYC?

NYC has tons of place to go to with your emotional support dog or emotional support cat. To name a few:

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

NYC is famous for its dog-friendly activities, with multitudes of dog runs and dog-friendly areas on the island alone.

  • Central Park
  • Madison Square Park Dog Run
  • Chelsea Waterside Park Dog Run

NYC Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

In New York City, there are so many to choose when looking for a dog-friendly restaurant as a lot have outdoor seating – perfect climate for your furry friend.

  • Fred’s Upper West Side
  • The Grey Dog’s Coffee
  • Barking Dog

esa in nyc dog-friendly restaurant

Live in NYC? How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your City Today!

Because laws governing the treatment of support animals are so new and complex, many employers and landlords may not be aware of the protections.
Take CertaPet’s online screening to see if you qualify for an emotional support animal. It only takes a few minutes and is 100% free.

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.