Getting an Emotional Support Animal in South Dakota

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 16, 2021

Getting an emotional support animal in South Dakota has a lot of advantages. Your emotional well-being will be improved by your puppy’s company. You’ll also be protected by two federal laws when looking for housing and flying. This is something people with a mental disability should look into as it will benefit their lives greatly!

The process is quite straightforward, but you need to know a few things. This article covers what an emotional support dog is, what your rights are as an owner, and what your obligations are.

Emotional Support Animal in South Dakota: Specific Protection

Before embarking on the adventure of getting an emotional support animal in South Dakota, you need to be informed about you and your ESAs rights. There are two iron-clad federal laws that protect ESA owners. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) grants you housing with your ESA. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) assures that you will be allowed to fly with Fido.

People with some forms of a mental health disability can qualify as ESA owners. If you have post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), bipolar disorder or depression, you could become one!

Definition of Assistance Animal

An assistance animal helps their owner in their day-to-day life. Emotional support animals ESA are, indeed, assistance animals. They provide mental and emotional comfort to humans. However, they are not to be confused with service animals.

Think of people with disabilities that require seeing-eye dogs, seizure-alert dogs or guide dogs. Generally, persons with disabilities such as blindness or seizures, require a trained service animal to perform tasks.

close-up of a black lab, an emotional support dog in South Dakota

So, what’s an emotional support animal ESA then? An emotional support animal ESA is generally companion animals that are prescribed for people suffering from mental illness such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety.

These animals are not trained to perform tasks and are simply there to provide companionship.

ESAs are in their own category. They’re covered by two pieces of federal law but don’t have the same rights (or obligations!) as service dogs.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in South Dakota: CertaPet’s simple 5-minute process

Getting an emotional support animal in South Dakota has never been easier. If you’re thinking of becoming an ESA owner yourself, the first step is to know if you can qualify as one. To know that, simply take our free online pre-screening test. It won’t take you more than five minutes and it will give you the answers you need.

If the test indicates that you are, in fact, eligible to be an ESA owner, we’ll put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional. They will be the ones to issue you the ESA letter. If everything goes right, you could be holding the emotional support letter in only 48 hours!

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Law)

If you’re getting an emotional support animal in South Dakota, we have good news for you. Now, when you hop on a plane to go on holiday, you can bring your furry friend along. The Air Carrier Access Act states that ESAs and their owners can fly on a plane together. The best part is that you will not be charged a fee for it!

To be covered by this law, you need to do a few things:

  • Be accompanied by your ESA letter when you travel.
  • Notify the airline at least 48 hours before departure that you’re bringing an ESA along.

Nowadays, depending on the airline, there are more documents being requested. It’s important to know what they are and have them with you. If you don’t, you and your ESA will be denied boarding.

Employment Laws

Employers are not required by law to provide reasonable accommodation to ESAs. Since they are not considered service dogs, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply to them.

However, you can always talk with your employer to see if they might open an exception for you. Since your ESA helps you relieve stress due to your disability, they might let them enter your workplace. This usually works on a case-by-case basis.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

If you want to live with an emotional support animal in South Dakota, you can. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is what grants you rights as an ESA owner and a tenant in South Dakota.

According to this law, your landlord must provide reasonable accommodation for you and your ESA. This must be done without an extra fee being charged. The FHA even applies to properties with a no-pet policy!

If you want to be covered by this law, you should have your ESA letter ready in case your landlord asks for it. They don’t always ask for it, but it’s good to be prepared for any scenario.

ESA Campus Housing

College students who own an emotional support animal in South Dakota can relax. On-campus housing is also included in the Fair Housing Act. This means that if you’re living in an university-owned dorm, you have the right to live with your ESA.

To be protected by this law, you will need your ESA letter. Just like what happens with housing providers off-campus, your hall might not request the letter. However, if they do and you refuse or can’t show it, you won’t have the right to any accommodation.

Exception to Rules

As good as these laws are to ESA owners, it’s important to keep in mind that not everything is fair play. There are some instances where the laws will no longer apply to you. Some of them are as follow:

Disputes are covered on a case-to-case basis, however, it’s best to be safe than sorry. To avoid any problems, always have your ESA letter at hand and train your ESA to behave in public.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

There are no laws that make the misrepresentation of an emotional support animal in South Dakota illegal. However, this is still seen as a big issue. If you don’t know, misrepresentation of an ESA means passing off a pet as an assistance animal.

According to the South Dakota Multi-Housing Association, there will be a new law being introduced on July 1, 2018, related to misrepresentation. From July 1st onwards, tenants lying about having an ESA will be subject to fines and may be evicted.

Getting an emotional support animal in South Dakota isn’t that difficult. Why not do it the legal way and avoid all this legal hassle?

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

It’s important to understand 100% what being an ESA owner means. Here are 5 facts that you’ll want to know if you’re thinking of getting an emotional support animal in South Dakota:

  1. ESAs are not pets! An emotional support animal is neither a pet, a service animal, or a therapy animal.
  2. The ESA letter is issued by a mental health professional to a patient, not an animal.
  3. There’s no such thing as an “ESA certificate” or an “ESA registration.” Companies selling these are scammers.
  4. You don’t need to necessarily get an emotional support dog to be your ESA! Animals as such miniature horses can also become an ESA.
  5. ESAs can only visit dog- and pet-friendly public accommodations. This means you’ll need to look for places that are welcoming to your companion animal.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

The good news is that finding the perfect ESA for you isn’t hard. Remember how the ESA letter will be awarded to you? This means that there are no “ESA approved” animals. It also means that virtually any animal (within reason) can be your new companion animal!

If you have a pet, they could potentially be your new ESA. If you don’t have one, there are plenty of animals waiting to be taken home in shelters! You should be looking for an animal that you connect well with. It shouldn’t be too hard — dogs and cats tend to steal our hearts fairly easily!

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal

When you have your ESA with you, you’ll probably want to go out in public with them. Because they’re not service dogs, they can’t go everywhere with you. This isn’t to say that they’ll have to stay home all day — quite the opposite! There are a lot of dog-friendly places in South Dakota where you can take your ESA.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

All dogs love a good grassy area. Check out these dog parks in South Dakota perfect to have fun:

  • Braeburn Addition Off-Leash Dog Area — Rapid City
  • Spencer Park — Sioux Falls
  • Robbinsdale Park — Rapid City

Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

ESA dog with owner in a dog-friendly restaurant in South Dakota

Going out to eat? Bring your four-legged buddy to one of these bars and restaurants:

  • Thirsty’s — Rapid City
  • Grizzly Creek Restaurant — Keystone
  • Murphy’s Pub and Grill — Rapid City

Resorts, Fitness and Spas

Bring Fido along on holiday to one of these awesome dog-friendly places:

  • The Lodge at Deadwood Gaming Resort — Deadwood
  • Big Pine Campground — Custer
  • Clubhouse Hotel & Suites Sioux Falls — Sioux Falls


Bringing your ESA to dog- and pet-friendly events is a great idea. There, they’ll make more friends — both human and animal friends! It’s also a great way for you to meet new people and make friends. Luckily, there are always dozens of events going on year-round in South Dakota. Don’t forget to keep up to date with them so you don’t miss any!

ESAs in South Dakota: How to Get Connected With an LMHP in your State Today!

CertaPet handles the most stressful part of getting an emotional support animal in South Dakota. You won’t need to search the yellow pages for a licensed mental health professional anymore! After passing our simple 5-minute pre-screening test, we’ll put you in touch with an LMHP.

They will handle the ESA paperwork while you sit back and wait for everything at your doorstep. It couldn’t be any easier!

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