Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Utah

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 16, 2021

Getting an emotional support animal in Utah can be beneficial to persons suffering from mental illness.  If you are a person in Utah suffering psychiatric disability or mental illness like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), then the human-animal bond can help you cope with your disability and improve mental health.  Learn what rights an emotional support dog has compared to a service dog or companion animal in Utah.

Emotional Support Animal in Utah: Specific protection

Getting an emotional support animal in Utah is different from getting a service animal. Emotional support animals, usually dogs or cats, help Americans with mental illnesses by providing comfort and support.  Unlike service animals, ESAs are not trained to perform tasks and are not allowed public accommodations where pets are prohibited.

Different persons with disabilities can be prescribed an emotional support animal if they have a qualifying mental illness. Emotional support animals in Utah have special rights in housing and air travel. These rights are protected under the Air Carrier Access Act and Fair Housing Act.

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The ESA Application process at CertaPet starts with a fast, free screening test that you can take right now. It takes only 5 minutes and shows if you may qualify for an ESA right away.

Definition of Assistance Animal

An emotional support animal in Utah is defined as an assistance animal that helps persons with mental illnesses and disabilities. An ESA is an assistance animal that does not require any form of specialized training to help its handler. Rather, ESAs are simply there to provide comfort to their handlers.

Emotional support animals are any animal (from emotional support dogs to miniature horses) prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disability to help alleviate the emotional aspect of the disability.

A service dog, on the other hand, is one that has been trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. The person’s disability can be mental or physical and only dogs can be considered a service animal. Service animals can help with a physical disability like a seeing-eye dog and need to be allowed anywhere their owner is for safety reasons.

emotional support animal utah

Psychiatric service animals provide more than comfort; they are trained to help a person with a psychiatric disability. Psychiatric service dogs can help a veteran with panic attacks by applying firm pressure or remind them to take their medication.

Therapy dogs are also different from emotional support animals and are not covered by the ADA Act.  These dogs are used in animal-assisted therapy, but the owner does not have a disability and is not protected by the ADA.  Therapy dogs are not considered assistance animals.

It's important to remember that an ESA is not a pet! They are considered working (assistance animals).

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Utah: CertaPet's Simple 5 Minute Process

emotional support animal in utah

If you’re thinking about getting an emotional support animal in Utah, first take the Certapet 5 minute pre-screening to see if you have a qualifying mental disability.  If you qualify, you will be put in contact with a licensed mental health specialist. And, if your mental health professional believes you are in need of an ESA, then you can have your ESA letter in 48 hours!

ESA Laws:

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Service dogs and emotional support animals are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act.  This law prevents discrimination by the airlines against those with a disability.  A letter from a mental health professional allows an emotional support animal in Utah to travel in the cabin of the plane with its owner.

An emotional support animal is allowed to sit with the owner either on their lap or in the space in front of them for the duration of the flight.  Some airlines require a written letter assuring the animal is trained to behave in a public setting (NOT trained to perform tasks). Learn more about the Air Carrier Assess Act.

Employment Laws

In Utah, only service animals are protected under the ADA employment laws.  Your employer will not be required to allow emotional support animals in the workplace.  You can ask your employer if you can bring your emotional support dog to work but it is a case-by-case basis.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

Utah recognizes emotional support animals under the Fair Housing Act, which prevents a person with a disability from discrimination from landlords.  Even if pets are not allowed in the housing, landlords must permit emotional support animals and make reasonable accommodation.

ESA Campus Housing

The Fair Housing Act applies to on-campus housing at Universities, but not in other public accommodations. Service animals can attend classes and other functions with a disabled person, but emotional support animals in Utah are only allowed in campus housing. Students can contact the University’s Disability Services to find out more about animal restrictions and accommodations provided to students with disabilities.

Exception to Rules

Under the Utah Fair Housing Act R608-1-17, landlords and housing providers can deny accommodations to emotional support animals if the animal in question is a direct threat to the health or safety of others. If the animal has a history of dangerous behavior or is “out of control” and the owner does not take “effective action” to control it, it can be denied boarding and not accepting in housing.

Some airlines only permit dogs and cats as an emotional support animal.  If your support animal is not a dog or cat, it may not be allowed to travel in-cabin.  When flying internationally, some countries (and states like Hawaii) have special requirements for foreign animal entry. If an emotional support animal is causing a significant disturbance, it may be denied boarding.

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

Misrepresenting a service dog in Utah is a Class B misdemeanor. Those caught misrepresenting a service dog can get up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to 1,000 dollars.  Service dogs must be trained and have different rights than an emotional support dog.  Some people misrepresent their companion animal or emotional support animal as a service dog so they can bring it into stores, restaurants, and other public places that are not pet-friendly.

Looking for an ESA?

The ESA Application process at CertaPet starts with a fast, free screening test that you can take right now. It takes only 5 minutes and shows if you may qualify for an ESA right away.

5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. In order to get an ESA all you need is a letter from a licensed mental health professional, there is no “registry,” “certifications” or “training” required.
  2. ESAs are not service dogs.  They are not allowed in places where pets are prohibited like restaurants and grocery stores.
  3. Any animal can be an ESA, but its easier to fly with a dog or a cat.
  4. You do not need to have a vest or a badge for your ESA, only the letter from your LMHP.
  5. An ESA does not need to be “trained” in order to become an ESA but it does need to behave in public.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Any animal can become an ESA, unlike service dogs which are trained in families and non-profit organizations.  You will need to have your pet before you can become an ESA owner.  There are shelters full of dogs, cats, rabbits, and many other animals that will make great emotional support animals.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

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

Once you take the 5-minute CertaPet PreScreening, you will be put in contact with a Licensed Mental Health Professional in Utah.   If you need the letter quickly, our Telehealth therapy service helps find an LMHP in Utah and you can have your ESA letter within 48 hours.

Animals are therapeutic and getting an Emotional Support Animal in Utah can help you cope with your disability and improve your mental health.  We’re here to help make the process easy and give you all of the information you need.

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