It’s a fairly well-known fact that service animals, (like seeing-eye dogs) have special protection under federal law. But did you know that emotional support animals also have special protection in lots of public places? For anyone thinking of getting an emotional support animal in Tulsa, Oklahoma, read on!
We’ll be covering what emotional support animals are, what protections they have, how to get one, and where to go once you have one.
Emotional Support Animal in Tulsa: Specific protection
The two main pieces of legislation that anyone hoping to get an emotional support animal in Tulsa will need to know about are:
- The Air Carriers Access Act
- The Fair Housing Act
The Acts legislate on many different aspects of life, but the most important thing to know for people with an emotional support animal in Tulsa is that they protect the rights of people with disabilities to bring assistance animals into places where pets are usually not allowed.
Definition of Assistance Animal
First things first, we need to know exactly what the Acts are referring to when they say “assistance animal”. An assistance animal is any animal that helps people, especially people with disabilities, or people who are elderly or sick.
Assistance animals are categorized by the tasks they perform, and by what kind of training they have. The three main kinds of assistance animals are as follows:
- Service Animals: service animals, (usually service dogs) are highly trained (often by a non-profit organization) to perform tasks for people with disabilities. This could be helping someone with a visual impairment, helping people with dementia and alzheimer’s to manage with day-to-day tasks, aiding wheelchair users with mobility-related tasks, or even sensing approaching fits.
- Emotional Support Animals: emotional support animals are also known as psychiatric service animals or companion animals. ESAs do not need any kind of special training, instead forming a strong human-animal bond to aid health and well-being. Emotional support animals offer comfort to their owners, supporting them with mental disabilities or emotional issues. Emotional support animals can help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. Any domesticated animal can be an ESA, though dogs and cats are the most common.
- Therapy Animals: a therapy animal (the most common kind being a therapy dog) visits people in assisted living facilities, schools and hospitals, offering a little joy and comfort.
Under the Acts, service animals have the most protection. ESAs still have some protection, but not as much (see below for more information). The Acts’ legislation does not apply to therapy animals.
Now we’ve covered exactly what an emotional support animal is (and isn’t) we’ll go into more detail on each of the Acts, and what the legislation means for people with an emotional support animal in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Tulsa: CertaPet’s simple 5 min process
- First, brush up on definitions! Before getting an emotional support animal in Tulsa, you need to know what exactly ESAs are, what they do, and whether one is right for you.
- Next, check if qualify for an ESA. Emotional support animals are still a lot of responsibility, and they aren’t suitable for everyone. CertaPet offers a free, 5-minute screening process that helps you assess if you are eligible for an emotional support animal.
- If you find that you do qualify for an emotional support animal, the next (and most important) step is to connect with a licensed mental health professional! CertaPet can help connect you with an LMHP mental health professional in Oklahoma, and you could then receive your ESA letter within 2 business days. It’s that easy!
An emotional support letter is an official document that proves your need for an ESA. It must be less than a year old and on letterhead paper or a prescription pad from a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional. The ESA letter must state the following:
- That you have a diagnosed mental health condition or mental health-related disability
- The emotional support animal accompanying you is necessary for your mental health or treatment
- The name and type of animal you have as an ESA, and how many (if you have more than one)
- That the issuer of the letter is a licensed medical doctor or mental health professional, and you are under their treatment or care for a mental health disability
- The issuer’s license number, type of license, the license issue date, and the state or jurisdiction where it was issued.
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), stops commercial airlines from discriminating against people with disabilities.
Under the ACAA, passengers with disabilities must be permitted to travel with assistance animals (including both service animals and emotional support animals) free of charge, even if the airline usually bans pets from traveling.
However, it is worth noting that many commercial USA airlines have recently tightened their rules on traveling with emotional support animals (these do not apply not service dogs).
Among these new rules, you may encounter some or all of the following:
- Passengers must provide an ESA letter, as well as any additional documentation, (such as proof of vaccinations or a veterinarian’s certificate) up to 48 hours before traveling. For more information on ESA letters, see below.
- The airline can refuse to board to any emotional support animal that the airline deems unclean, or one that or does not behave properly in the airport or on the aircraft (e.g. barking or growling at other passengers).
- Passengers may bring one emotional support dog or cat on board, no other animals.
Always check with your airline in advance of your journey.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from workplace discrimination and upholds their right to work.
Employers must make “reasonable accommodation” for employees with disabilities, including permitting service dogs in the workplace. have their right to work protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which also protects against workplace discrimination.
As part of the ADA, service dogs must be permitted in the workplace, and employers must make “reasonable accommodation” to support them.
Emotional support animal in Tulsa are not covered by the ADA; however, it is worth asking your employer if they could permit emotional support animals on a case-by-case basis, or with a valid ESA letter.
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
The Fair Housing Act protects tenants with disabilities from discrimination by landlords and housing providers. Landlords must make “reasonable accommodation” to support tenants with disabilities, including allowing both service dogs and emotional support dogs.
However, a housing provider or landlord may require tenants to provide an ESA letter.
ESA Campus Housing
The Fair Housing Act also applies to university campuses, so all on-campus housing is covered. Students with service dogs or emotional support animals may bring them, though the latter may need an ESA letter.
Exception to Rules
You may have noticed a pattern by now: not all of the laws apply to emotional support animals and those that do come with exceptions. In addition to requiring an ESA letter, airlines or landlords can turn away emotional support animals that are unclean or unable to behave properly in public (think barking or growling, jumping, not coming when called, or not being properly potty-trained).
Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal
Unlike other states, Oklahoma does not have an explicit law against the misrepresentation of an assistance animal.
However, doing so could still result in a penalty, or in expulsion from your job, school or rented accommodation. Oklahoma does also have a fine of up to $50 for those who offer to falsely register a service animal.
4 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
Now we’ve covered the legislation, you’re one step closer to getting an emotional support animal in Tulsa. Make sure you’ve read up on the following key facts before you go any further.
- Emotional support animals and service animals are different. The laws relating to the two overlap, but are not identical. Make sure you know the difference, and what it means when going places with your ESA.
- There is no way of certifying an emotional support animal, as they do not get any special training. Any service that purports to register your ESA is a scam. Only an ESA letter (which relates to your need for an ESA, not the ESA itself) is acceptable proof. We cover ESA letters in the next section.
- Emotional support animals are not obliged to wear service dog vests, tags or collars that identify them in public. Many ESA owners opt to use them, however, for the sake of clarity.
- Any animal can be an emotional support animal, including a pet you already have. Do make sure, however, that the animal can behave properly and will not cause more stress than it prevents.
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
Why not look for your new emotional support animal in Tulsa at an animal shelter?
Humane Society of Tulsa, Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter, and Tulsa SPCA are all full of great pets looking for a loving home.
If you talk to the shelter and tell them that you are hoping to get an emotional support animal, they should be able to help you find one with a suitable temperament.
Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal
Although the law doesn’t let you bring your emotional support dog into any private business, there are plenty of great dog-friendly spots to take your emotional support animal in Tulsa.
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
Taking your emotional support dog to a dog park can be a great way to bond and get some exercise. Try Biscuit Acres or Joe Station Dog Park, both in Tulsa.
Dog-friendly restaurants and bars
Wind down after all that exercise with a bite to eat at one of Tulsa’s many dog-friendly restaurants. Andolini’s, Doc’s Wine and Food, and Roosevelt’s are all popular with dogs and owners alike.
Resorts, fitness, and spas
If you want to get away from it all, why not take your emotional support dog with you on a break at one of the city’s pet-friendly hotels? Aloft Tulsa and the Ambassador Hotel Tulsa both welcome four-legged friends!
ONEOK Field in Tulsa hots regular “Bark in the Park” events, which can be a great opportunity to socialize your emotional support dog and meet other dog lovers!
ESAs in Tulsa: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your city Today!
Are you planning on getting an emotional support animal in Tulsa, Oklahoma? CertaPet helps to get the ball rolling by connecting you with a licensed mental health professional in your state, taking the stress out of the search. If you’re eligible, you could get your ESA letter in as little as 2 working days.