Animal Rights: Break the Law & Kiss Your ESA Letter Goodbye!

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emotional support animals of fluffy cat and golden retriever looking up

Animal rights are there to ensure that people care for their companion animals. The laws on the welfare and care of emotional support animals and other animals differ from state to state and city to city. If you are caught breaking these laws, the repercussions could lead to you losing your ESA letter.

Read on to find out more about the different animal laws, animal rights, and what you can do stay on the straight and narrow when it comes to looking after your furry friend!

What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letter?

An emotional support animal letter is a document that states that the patient is suffering from an emotional or mental disability and requires a pet as part of their treatment protocol. This letter is written by a licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP). The letter should include the following:

  • Your ESA letter should be written on the LMHPs letterhead.
  • The type of license carried by your licensed mental health professional.
  • The license numbers.
  • The issue date of the license.
  • The state in which the license was issued.
  • The date on which the letter was written.

The ESA letter should confirm the following information:

  • That you are currently a patient of this LMHP.
  • You are being treated for a disability.
  • That you are significantly inhibited in performing a major life activity.
  • That the prescription of an ESA is an integral part of your treatment plan.

A Look at the Law: The 2 Federal Laws That Protect Emotional Support Animals

ESAs fall somewhere between the categories of pets and service animals. They are not trained to carry out daily tasks. However, they do serve a specific purpose for their owners. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been amended to make provision for emotional support animals and their owners. There are two laws that protect ESAs.

The Federal Housing Act (FHA)

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) stipulates that apartments and housing communities which usually restrict pets are to make reasonable accommodation for ESAs. All housing providers covered under the FHA and/or the ADA must adhere to this Act.

A verified ESA owner (i.e. someone in possession of an ESA letter written by a certified mental health practitioner) cannot be denied housing based on their disability/condition or the fact that they have an emotional support pet.

two dogs cuddling under blanket

Another point made in the FHA is that property owners cannot charge fees or ask for advance deposits for ESAs. Property owners may not question the disability or require the ESA to wear identification. However, if an animal is neglected or if there is significant damage to the property, the property owner may be able to recover fees at a later stage.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prohibits the discrimination of individuals with disabilities traveling by air. This means that people with a legitimate emotional support animal can travel with their pets in-cabin on an airplane. Further, they are not liable to pay any extra fees for this privilege.

Bear in mind that this privilege can be revoked if it is found that the animal’s rights are being neglected in any way. It is also important to consider the rights and comfort of fellow air passengers.

Please familiarize yourself with the policies and requirements of the airline that you will be traveling on. Some air carriers require advance notice if you plan on flying with your ESA. Some airlines might need ESA letters or other documentation in advance.

Every ESA Has Rights! A Look at Federal and State Animal Protection Laws

Our pets have become such an integral part of our society. Several laws have been passed to provide for situations in which there is a conflict between animals and humans. Enter animal rights.

The main federal law to do with companion animals is the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This act sets minimum standards for animals kept at zoos, used in laboratories, and commercially bred animals. These standards direct the treatment, care, handling, and transportation of these animals.

Because the federal law is so basic, most laws regarding the protection of companion animals happen at a state level. Some counties and cities also pass additional laws to protect companion animals. For example, many cities have enforced a “retail pet sale ban”.

This law prohibits the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits from commercial breeders at pet stores. Pet stores and similar establishments can legally only sell pets that come from shelters and rescue groups.

Here are some examples of state laws that govern the hands-on care of companion animals:

  • How frequently cats and dogs should receive the rabies vaccine.
  • Regulation of the commercial breeding of companion animals.
  • “Hot car laws”. Some states instill these laws, criminalizing leaving an animal in a car in extreme weather.
  • Anti-tethering laws. These laws limit the length of time that a pet can be tied up or chained outside. At least 50% of states have laws that make allowance for pets to be included in domestic violence protective orders.

What Animal Rights Activists and Animal Rights Movements Have to Say: 

There are many Celebrities and Influencers out there who are using their voices to fight for animal rights! Here is what some of them have to say:

“If you don’t like seeing pictures of violence towards animals being posted, you need to help stop the violence, not the pictures.” – Johnny Depp

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“We can judge the heart of a man by  his treatment of animals.” – Immanuel Kant

7 Ways You Can (And Will) Lose Your ESA Letter and the Rights That Come with It

animal rights activists picture of neglected chained up dog cowering

If you are seen to be neglecting your ESA in some way, it is possible that your ESA letter can be revoked. Neglect is overlooking any of the following:

1. Your ESA should have access to clean, fresh water at all times of the day. It is advisable to freshen their water at least twice a day.

2. You should feed your pet a well-balanced, veterinarian approved diet. Make sure that your companion animal’s diet is appropriate for their age, exercise requirements and health condition.

3. All companion animals require shelter of some sort. Even if you have a pet that loves being outdoors, you must ensure that they have access to shelter from harsh elements.

4. Pets must have access to a clean and hygienic bathroom area. To protect both your health and that of your furry friend, it is important to clean potty areas regularly.

5. Educate yourself about pest-control for your pet and about which vaccinations they should receive and how often. To check overall health and for booster shots, an annual veterinary check-up is a good idea.

6. Is your companion animal of the canine variety? You should undertake to exercise your hound as regularly as they require. This differs from breed to breed, with age, and with health status.

7. Regular grooming, i.e trimming of nails and coat brushing are important for your pet’s well-being too. Too long nails can be painful. They can cause damage and result in uncomfortable movement. Mats and dreadlocks that form in ungroomed coats can cause discomfort and harbor dirt and parasites that can cause illness.

There is no excuse to overlook animal rights and neglect an animal. Ever.

When Landlords Have Had Enough!

If your landlord notices unruly or destructive behavior from your ESA, they can apply to have your ESA privileges revoked.

If other citizens notice that you are not meeting the basic needs of your pet’s care, they can lay a complaint with the appropriate authorities. Depending on the transgression and the state in which you live, this could lead to the removal of your ESA letter and the associated privileges.

Your ESA Looks After You, So You Need to Look After Them!

Your furry friend is there for you any time of the day or night. Their love is unconditional. All that they ask for in return is some basic care and love.

An important part of taking care of another being is knowing and understanding what their needs are. Different animals have different needs. Some pets need more exercise than others. The kind of exercise that they can tolerate differs from pet to pet. Different pets have different dietary requirements.

happy dog with food and water bowl

Make sure that you know what kind of foods your dog, cat, bird, or bunny can eat. Some foods that we enjoy are poisonous to animals!

Feeding your dog the wrong food and thereby causing illness or discomfort is tantamount to neglect. Overfeeding your dog can be as harmful as underfeeding! The resultant obesity can lead to discomfort and chronic conditions such as diabetes and joint immobility.

It is advisable to do your due diligence before bringing another being into your life. You need to know what your pets needs are!

Don’t Have Your ESA Letter Yet? CertaPet Has You Covered!

An ESA letter is critical to enjoying the privileges afforded to owners of an emotional support animal. If you feel that owning an ESA could help to improve your quality of life, look no further. The CertaPet pre-screening questionnaire takes just 5 minutes.

Should you have the potential to qualify for an ESA, you will be put in touch with a LMHP. A brief online consultation with your LMHP will help them determine your eligibility for an ESA letter. Within a short space of time, you could have your very own ESA letter and be ready to welcome a superhero pet into your life!

Common Questions About Animal Rights for ESAs

Do ESAs Have Rights?

What are the Basic Needs of Animals?

Can I Lose my ESA Letter?

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