Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Ohio

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 14, 2021


If you are a person suffering from an emotional and/or mental disability, such as post-traumatic distress disorder PTSD or depression then you might benefit from an emotional support animal. With an ESA, more and more people inclined to travel more and live with their furry friend; however, they must have the right documentation! Discover more about getting an emotional support animal in Ohio and your rights.

Emotional Support Animal in Ohio: Specific Protections

The law with regards to an emotional support dog varies from state to state. Indeed, a recent legal action brought against Kent State University, Ohio, emphasizes the importance of understanding your rights with regards to an ESA.

No one suffering from an emotional disorder or post-traumatic stress needs the distress of bringing a civil rights lawsuit. However, in Ohio some brave people have done this, to help others get the rights an ESA is granted by law.

However, the law cuts both ways. If you fail to meet guidelines proving you have an emotional support animal, this can be used against you. You must be clear on points such as exactly where an ESA has right of access so that you don’t fall foul of the law.

Definition of an Assistance Animal

An assistance dog is simply a dog (or other species but most commonly a dog) that will perform tasks to support persons with disabilities, be those mental or physical. This is an umbrella term that applies to both service animals and emotional support animals.

However, in Ohio, the law tightly prescribes whether a companion animal qualifies as a service animal or not.

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In simple terms, a service animal is trained to do a task, such as guiding a blind person or being the ears of a deaf person. In contrast, an emotional support animal helps a person with mental health issues but is not trained to do a specific task.

According to Ohio state law, emotional support animals are not allowed in public establishments unless it is pet-friendly.

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

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Do you suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic, phobias, or fear disorder?

If the answer is “yes” and a dog or other animal helps alleviate the symptoms, you may qualify as an emotional support animal.

Getting an emotional support animal in Ohio can be a fairly hassle-free task! So make sure you take CertaPet’s quick 5-minute questionnaire and connect with an LMHP. If you qualify, you’ll be able to get an emotional support animal quick.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

On air flights, a carrier’s pet policy concerning emotional support animals is not covered by the American Disabilities Act (ADA). However, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) is more helpful with respect to anti-discrimination laws for these assistance animals.

The ACAA dictates it must be a legitimate emotional support animal. Thus, you must possess a letter from a licensed mental health professional stating the pet supports your emotional well-being.

Once these conditions are met, an airline is not allowed to discriminate against an ESA. This means regardless of whether your assistance animal is a service dog or an ESA, they are allowed to stay by your side for the duration of a flight (note: an airline may require additional documentation and tighter restrictions).

It is important to remember, that an emotional support animal in Ohio will be protected under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Employment Laws

A gray area with regards to emotional support animals is their access to the workplace. According to Ohio law, an ESA is not automatically entitled to attend a workplace, in the way a service animal for a physical disability is.

However, when the owner is in possession of an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional, some employers may be lenient. Many employers work on a case-by-case basis.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

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An emotional support animal in Ohio will be protected under the Fair Housing Act. The FHA dictates no person with a disability shall face discrimination for reasonable housing.

By law, the landlord is prohibited from refusing to let to a person with an ESA, although they remain entitled not to let to people with pets.

Neither is the landlord allowed to charge a higher rent because of an emotional support animal. However, should an ESA prove to be destructive, the landlord is within their right to serve a warning and then evict you.

ESA and Campus Housing

January 2016 saw a successful lawsuit brought on behalf of two students. Their case was against Kent State University who had prohibited them from living in public accommodation on campus with their ESAs. The civil lawsuit found in favor of the students, awarding damages of $100,000.

This is an example of how the law in Ohio grants students with mental health issues, the right to have their animal assistant live in campus housing and residence halls. However, the student must prove the dog is an ESA by providing a letter from a licensed mental health professional confirming their claim.

Exception to Rules

Just as a landlord or airline has an obligation to meet the needs of those with an emotional support animal so must you meet certain standards.

This means keeping the assistance animal in good health and well-cared for. In addition, the dog must behave appropriately and be adequately trained. Should the animal be disruptive, unruly, or a distraction, then the law waives their rights as an ESA.

In addition, simple verbal reassurance from the owner is not sufficient to prove the animal’s status as an ESA. This can only be done after an assessment by a licensed mental health professional who then writes a letter confirming the furry pal is a true emotional support animal.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

A surge in the numbers of bogus emotional support animals gaining access to air flights and rented accommodation has lead to a crackdown. More and more states are tightening up on regulations and checking claims more rigorously.

Those found to erroneously claim their pet is a service animal or performs a psychiatric service purely for the sake of convenience, are liable to a hefty fine.

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. An emotional support animal must be well-behaved and well-cared for. Should your ESA be disruptive, rights to access can be denied.
  2. There is no such thing as a ‘certified’ or ‘registered’ ESA. Agencies claiming they can register your pet as an ESA are illegitimate.
  3. The only way to authenticate an ESA is by the possession of a letter from a licensed mental health professional, stating this to be the case,
  4. Airlines usually require advanced warning if you intend to board with an ESA.
  5. Even an ESA may not be granted access to restaurants, cafes, theaters, and other public places.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

If an ESA sounds exactly the support you need to deal with depression or post-traumatic stress, there’s more good news! Finding an emotional support animal in Ohio isn’t difficult at all.

An emotional support animal in Ohio doesn’t require specialized training. You just need to have a unique bond with the pet. There are many dogs in shelters and rescues in desperate need of a loving home and the stability you have to offer. If you’re looking for an animal to support you emotionally then a great place to start is a rescue shelter.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal in Ohio

But of course, your ESA needs fun and stimulation, just as you do. Check out the following places you can visit below.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Bow Wow Beach, Stow

Salt Fork State Park, Lore City

Dog-friendly Restaurants and Bars

Luxe Kitchen, Cleveland

Gresso’s, Columbus

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

Hampton Inn, Cincinnati

La Quinta Inn, Cleveland


Rescue Run, Columbus

Bark in the Park, Maumee

ESA in Ohio: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!

If you are new to Ohio or do not have a primary care doctor/LMHP, CertaPet can help.

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