Getting an emotional support animal in Vermont is the perfect idea for someone with an emotional and/or mental disability. These animals are much more than pets, and there are federal laws protecting them and their owners. ESA’s offer companionship and better their owner’s wellbeing through this human-animal bond.
Emotional Support Animal in Vermont: Specific Protection
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal that has housing and travel rights. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) cover you and your ESA. You will be allowed to live and travel by plane with them without being charged an extra fee.
It’s important to know your rights. Only this way will you be able to live with your emotional support animal stress-free. You need to know what documents you need to carry with you, as well as where you can and can’t go with them.
Definition of Assistance Animal
An assistance animal is one that helps people with disabilities in their day-to-day lives. An emotional support dog is considered an assistance animal and is covered under two laws. They give mental and emotional support to people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and many other mental disabilities.
Service dogs are also assistance animals. However, unlike ESAs, they are trained to perform tasks. They assist people with physical disabilities, for example. Think of a guide dog to get a clear picture of what service animals are.
Trained service dogs are protected by different laws than ESAs, so it’s important to establish that they are different.
How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Vermont: CertaPet’s simple 5-minute process
Getting an emotional support animal in Vermont means first getting an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. Luckily, you won’t have to spend hours doing research to find a suitable therapist. We will handle this whole process for you!
First, take the quick 5-minute pre-screening.
It will be a quick way of knowing whether or not you are eligible to have an ESA. If our test deems that you are, we’ll put you in touch with an LMHP who will guide you through the process. They will issue your ESA letter which you will receive very shortly after.
Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)
Getting an emotional support animal in Vermont means that you’ll be allowed to fly with them. The Air Carrier Access Act states that owners are entitled to travel with their ESA if they so, please. As long as you have all the documents and did everything the airline asks you to, you won’t have to pay a fee.
To be covered by this incredibly handy law, you’ll need to comply with the airline’s rules. Here’s a list of what to do before you take off:
- Give your airline a notice of at least 48 hours before you board that you’ll be bringing your ESA.
- Show them your emotional support letter as issued by your mental health professional.
- Check what other requirements your airline has established in their ESA policy.
Depending on the airline you fly with, you might need some extra documents. So make sure you check in with the airline beforehand!
Since emotional support animals are not considered service animals, they are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means that your employer is not bound by law to provide reasonable accommodation for your ESA.
However, you may have some luck talking to your employer one-on-one. Explain to them that your ESA helps you work better by offering emotional and mental support. Arguing this works on a case-by-case basis, and you might get lucky!
Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)
This iron-clad federal law states that ESA owners can live with their companion animal in rented housing. If you’re getting an emotional support animal in Vermont and renting an apartment, these are good news for you!
According to this law, your landlord must provide reasonable accommodation for you and your ESA. This means that you can even move into a place that has a no-pets policy. It also states that you will not be charged an extra fee or deposit to live with your ESA.
In order to be covered by this law, you need to have your emotional support letter at hand. Not all landlords ask their tenant for them, but if they do, you must show them it.
ESA Campus Housing
College students in on-campus housing getting an emotional support animal in Vermont are also covered by the FHA. Just like what happens with “regular” rented housing, university-owned halls have to accept ESAs with their owners. This means that you won’t be charged a pet fee when moving into your dorm.
Don’t forget to show your ESA letter if they ask for it. Not all residences ask for it, but if you fail to show it when asked, the FHA won’t cover you.
Exception to Rules
Having an emotional support animal in Vermont means that you have rights and responsibilities to adhere to. There are some cases when the FHA and the ACAA won’t apply to you. Some of these are as follows:
- If you fail to show all necessary documents to the airline, you won’t be guaranteed boarding with your ESA.
- Not having an ESA letter to show your landlord when they ask results in not being given housing.
- If you neglect your ESA, the state can intervene and take them away from you.
- You will have to pay for any damage your ESA causes.
- Landlords have the right to deny housing to ESAs that are unruly (bark, growl, are aggressive…)
Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal
Passing off a pet as an emotional support animal in Vermont is not yet illegal. However, it is heavily frowned upon. While Vermont doesn’t have a punishment in place as of yet, many other states do. In other US states, misrepresenting an ESA is considered a misdemeanor and can carry a hefty fine.
It’s not that difficult to get an ESA in Vermont if you have a mental disability. Instead of risking being punished for misrepresenting one, why not get an emotional support dog the legal way?
5 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA
If you’re getting an ESA soon, you’ll need to be up to speed with all the information and laws that apply to your companion animal. Here are some worth mentioning:
- An emotional support dog is neither a service dog, a therapy dog, or a pet.
- ESAs can’t go into non-pet-friendly public places without the company’s owner’s permission.
- An emotional support letter is the only thing that will hold up in court. “ESA registry” and “ESA certification” don’t exist and have no legal value. Avoid companies selling these.
- ESAs don’t need to be trained! However, you should teach them how to be a “good boy” when in public.
- An emotional support animal doesn’t have to be a dog. It can be a cat or even a miniature horse!
Where to Find a Suitable ESA!
Emotional support animal letters are only awarded to patients. This means that there is no such thing as an “ESA certified” animal! Therefore, you can’t just go to a store and buy one. Since ESAs don’t need any special training, virtually any animal will do — as long as that animal can be considered an ESA.
For example, a Persian cat can be your new companion animal, but a mosquito can’t!
If you already have a pet, you might be able to make them your official ESA. If you don’t have one, shelters are always looking for new owners. You would be giving animals that have been abandoned a new shot a living a happy life. It would be a win-win situation for you and your four-legged pal.
As long as you connect with that animal, they could potentially become your new ESA.
Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal
Who doesn’t want to go out with their pet? This is also true of ESA owners.
If you’re getting an emotional support animal in Vermont, you might be wondering “where can I take them?!”
Fortunately, the answer to that question is very simple — to pet-friendly places!
Vermont has plenty of places where you can take your ESA. They will get to exercise and make new dog friends and you’ll get to breathe some fresh air while hanging out with your furry bud.
Dog Parks and Dog Runs
Let your emotional support dog run free in one of these dog parks:
- Watson Upper Valley Dog Park — White River Junction
- Magic Hat Brewing Company — Burlington
- Mills Riverside Park — Jericho
Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars
Why not grab a bite to eat or a drink in one of these dog-friendly restaurants?
- Vermont Pub and Brewery — Burlington
- Gringo Jack’s — Manchester Center
- The Publyk House — Bennington
- Riley’s Fish Shack — Saint Johnsbury
Resorts, Fitness, and Spas
Bringing your ESA to one of these places would surely make your vacation worlds better:
- Stowe Mountain Lodge — Stowe
- The Essex Resort and Spa — Essex Junction
- The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa — Manchester Center
There’s nothing more exciting than going to a dog-friendly event with your Fido. They’re the perfect place to let them make friends. You can even meet new people who love dogs just as much as you do!
Luckily, there are dozens of year-round events in Vermont. A quick Google or Facebook search will reveal all kinds of events you can attend — stay up to date!
ESAs in Vermont: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!
Getting an emotional support animal in Vermont has tons of advantages. You’ll get to enjoy this precious human-animal bond in a stress-free way since you’re protected by two iron-clad federal laws. It’s not a difficult process either! CertaPet will handle most of the paperwork for you so that all you have to do is cuddle up with your new emotional support animal.