Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Sacramento

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 16, 2021

emotional support animal sacramento bridgeAre you thinking about getting an emotional support animal in Sacramento?  It’s common to see a visually impaired person take their guide dog into an area where a pet normally wouldn’t be permitted. Even the strictest landlord must permit someone with a visual disability to bring their seeing-eye dog into their accommodation.

But what about emotional support animals?

People with certain types of mental disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health conditions can be afforded similar protections as those of people with service animals. Read on to find out everything you need to know about getting approval and important laws for an emotional support animal in Sacramento.

Emotional Support Animal in Sacramento: Specific protection

Sadly emotional support animals in Sacramento are not afforded the same rights as service animals. Service animals are allowed to enter public places and accompany their handlers in the workplace. ESAs don’t have those rights. They are, however, protected under 2 laws:

The Fair Housing Act (FHA)states that a Landlord may not discriminate against someone with a disability. If you suffer from a mental illness or condition, any prospective Landlord has to waive the “No Pet” rule.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) makes provisions for people wishing to travel with their ESA.

But just like its state, California, these laws give emotional support animals the proper protection when an owner needs it.

Definition of Assistance Animal

Assistance animals include dogs and other animals who provide their owners or handlers with a specific service. In a nutshell, there are three types of assistance animals: Service animals, psychiatric service animals, and emotional support animals. It is important to distinguish between the types of assistance animals because they are not all protected by the same laws.

Service animals, such as guide dogs, have been extensively trained to perform specific tasks for their handlers. Psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals both help people with mental conditions and illnesses, but they are not to be confused!

Psychiatric service animals have also undergone intensive training in order to perform certain tasks for their handlers.

Emotional support animals, however, have not been trained to perform specific tasks. Their role is purely to provide support, comfort and a sense of safety for their owners. This is a job that almost any pet could provide for a person suffering from mental illnesses or conditions such as depression and anxiety.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Sacramento: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process

Thanks to CertaPet, the process of getting the appropriate letter regarding your emotional support animal is surprisingly simple.  Everything starts with a free online pre-screening that takes a maximum of five minutes to complete.

From there, CertaPet’s extensive referral network will put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional who can write the ESA letter that you need. The process has been streamlined to such an extent that, if you have a qualifying mental health condition, you could have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hours.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

If you’re interested in getting an emotional support dog, service dog, or another type of assistance animal, you may be wondering whether these animals are permitted to travel on an airplane.

The Air Carrier Access Act recognizes the invaluable service that emotional support animals provide for their owners, so your ESA will be allowed to accompany you on your flight.

If your ESA is a dog or a cat, you should have no problem getting them on the flight. Airlines do have a list of animals that are not permitted on flights, so it’s always worth checking in with them. You won’t have any trouble flying with your Golden Retriever, but if your ESA is an exotic snake or bird, you may have a problem getting them in the cabin with you.

Airlines have tightened the rules of allowing ESAs to travel on flights. Which is a good thing considering how many people were taking advantage of the service.

You will need to have an ESA letter from a qualified mental health professional to state that you have a mental illness or condition and that the animal provides you with support in light of your mental health issue.

Employment Laws

For many people with a mental disability, finding and maintaining gainful employment can be difficult.  Unfortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act does state that an emotional support animal in Sacramento must be allowed to accompany their owner in the workplace.

It is entirely up to the employer’s discretion to allow your ESA to accompany you at work. Legally there is nothing preventing an employer from refusing to allow your ESA at work.

However, in many cases, they don’t mind the presence of ESAs, as long as they are well trained and are not a distraction that lowers productivity levels!

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

It’s not easy finding pet-friendly apartments and other types of pet-friendly housing.  A landlord may not want a dog in their housing, but according to the Fair Housing Act, if the owner has the appropriate ESA documentation, the animal must be allowed to live on the property.

The Act recognizes that anyone suffering from mental illness, and needs the emotional support of their pet, should be allowed access to accommodation.

emotional support cat in sacramento apartment

ESA Campus Housing

Housing provided by universities or college campuses is included in the Fair Housing Act. Your ESA should be allowed to stay with you on campus, but rules and regulations may vary for different schools.

It’s always best to research the rules regarding ESAs of any specific campus to be sure that you and your ESA comply with their required standards.

Exception to Rules

With every rule comes a list of exceptions, including the rules regarding ESAs.

A landlord may lawfully refuse to allow your ESA to live with your animal has harmed another person or animal. They can also refuse to allow your animal to stay with you if they have damaged any property! It goes without saying, that if you abuse your ESA in any way, your ESA privileges will be revoked!

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

There are many benefits to having an emotional support animal in Sacramento, which is why the law poses strict penalties for anyone who claims that their animal is a certified ESA when they are not.

Even if your dog is trained, you should never claim that your dog is an assistance dog when it’s simply a pet. The penalties for misrepresenting an assistance animal can range from fines to community service, and potentially even jail time.

4 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. The only person who can provide an ESA letter is a mental health professional.  A non-profit organization or any other person does not have the legal standing to certify that you need the assistance of a service dog.
  2. Emotional support animals do not need any special training in order to be certified as ESAs in Sacramento.
  3. An ESA is a huge responsibility. You will be their primary caregiver and be responsible for everything from food and water to medical care.
  4. Your ESA does not have the same rights as service animals. Service animals are allowed in public places and businesses. If you want to take your ESA into a restaurant or store, it is up to the owner’s discretion to allow or refuse them access.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Did you know that any dog can be recognized as an emotional support animal in Sacramento?  That’s right, dogs and other animals do not need any specific training in order to be recognized as a service dog.

In fact, the ESA letter relates to the person with the mental health condition, not to the dog or animal itself.  For this reason, any dog can potentially become an emotional support animal, including your existing pets or any of the wonderful dogs found in dog pounds and animal shelters.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

Sacramento is generally regarded as a pet-friendly area.  This is great news for people who need an emotional support animal, and want to take their dog with them while out and about.

Read on to find out some of the most popular pet-friendly places in Sacramento.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

The North Natomas Regional Dog Park is one of the most popular dog parks in Sacramento, as is the Phoenix Dog Park.

For a special occasion, consider taking your emotional support dog for an old-fashioned carriage ride in Old Town, or head out to meet some other lovely pets at the Power Inn Dog Park, Howe Community Park Dog Park, or Truitt Bark Park.

emotional support dog in sacramento dog park

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

Did you know that there are 130 different restaurant and bar options to take your emotional support dog to in Sacramento?  From cafes to bars and casual dining to upscale restaurants, there is a huge variety of places that allow dogs at their outdoor tables.

Try the River City Brewing Company, Old Soul at The Weatherstone, or Ambrosia Cafe and give your beloved animal a special treat.

Resorts, fitness, and spas

While humans might head to a resort, fitness center, or spa to feel refreshed and rejuvenated, for a special treat for your emotional support animal, consider taking them to Paws and the Palette Dog Bakery in Sacramento.

And if you need to stop at Home Depot on the way home, feel free, because Home Depot is a pet-friendly store.


It’s always exciting when a pet-friendly event is scheduled in Sacramento.  Coming up soon is the Front Street Brewfest and the Bow Wow Luau Yappy Hour.  One of the main events on the pet-friendly event calendar is the Sacramento SPCA Doggy Dash, held every year to raise vital funds for the Sacramento SPCA.

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

Now that you know how easy it is to be qualified for an emotional support animal in Sacramento, it’s time to start the process. CertaPet’s five minutes online questionnaire is easy, free, and will start you on the simple process of getting your own ESA in Sacramento.

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