ESA Weekly News January 7th: ESA Joins County Attorney’s Office and Tennessee’s Updated 2019 ESA LawsReading Time: 2 minutes
Happy New Year! To kick things off this week, we have two pieces of emotional support animal news for you. The first is about an emotional support dog who is joining a county attorney’s office in Minnesota. The second a look back at the ESA laws that changed in Tennessee during 2019. Get your cup of joe and get caught up.
Emotional Support Poodle Joins Hennepin Attorney’s Office
Berrett is a four-month-old golden doodle puppy who will be offering emotional support to victims and witnesses during trials. He is the most recent member of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. He is expected to finish his training soon and will start working in early 2020.
Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County Attorney, welcomes the initiative. He finds using an ESA with reluctant witnesses to be rewarding and productive. According to him, Berrett’s presence will be especially important during juvenile cases.
This is not the first time an ESA joins the staff at a courthouse. Arkansas was the first state to have an ESA helping victims and witnesses during trials in 2003. Since then, Illinois, Hawaii, and Arizona have followed suit. Now, it’s Minnesota’s turn to join the trend.
Freeman, when talking about Berrett to news outlets, added that the courthouse “can be a very stressful location for some people, so he’s got some big shoes to fill, but he’s up for it.”
Changes to Tennessee ESA Laws in 2019: Looking Back
Tennessee was one of the states passing stricter emotional support animal laws in 2019. Legislators wanted to stop people from passing off pets as ESAs, and so far they’ve been somewhat successful.
Under the Fair Housing Act, ESAs can live with their owners rent-free even in units with a no-pets policy. That’s why some tenants pretend their pets are just ESAs. Landlords have complained about this issue for a long time, and now they were heard.
It’s been almost six months since the Tennessee ESAs were amended. Now, tenants found lying about their pet being an ESA will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. To prove their ESA is legit, tenants will have to show their emotional support letter.
A similar law was passed concerning service animals. No one can pass off a pet or an ESA as a service animal. This type of misrepresentation is also considered a Class B misdemeanor.
CertaPet’s Thoughts on This Week’s News
We’re happy to see 2020 off to a great start in Hennepin County! Having an emotional support animal around victims and witnesses is a great idea. It helps them and the prosecution’s case—it’s a win-win for all.
It’s also good seeing more restrictive ESA laws coming into effect. Emotional support animals are a crucial part of therapy for someone with a mental illness. Weeding out fake ESAs and protecting the real ones is something all states should be doing.
If you need an emotional support animal by your side, we can help you. Start by taking our 5-minute pre-screening test for free. We’ll connect you with a licensed mental health professional who may issue your ESA letter if you qualify. Start the New Year off right!
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