Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Raleigh, NC

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 16, 2021

emotional support animal raleigh skylineWe’ve all seen guide dogs walk into public places without anyone complaining. That’s because they have rights that pets do not. But did you know that an emotional support animal in Raleigh is also afforded some special rights?

To know more about how getting an emotional support dog in Raleigh works, keep reading!

Emotional Support Animal in Raleigh: Specific Protection

An emotional support animal plays a relevant part in animal-assisted therapy. If you have a mental disability, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PSD), you should look into getting one. They keep their owner company and, through love, better their health and well-being state.

There are two iron-clad federal laws that protect ESAs and their owners. The first is the Air Carrier Access Act, which regulates flying. The second is the Fair Housing Act, that allows owners to live with their furry friends.

Your rights as the owner of an emotional support animal in Raleigh are similar to those in other North Carolina cities.

Definition of Assistance Animal

An assistance animal helps their owner in their day-to-day life. Since ESAs help their owners cope with their mental illness, they are considered assistance animals. Because of this, they have rights that a pet does not. They don’t have to be professionally trained or wear a dog vest.

Service animals are more well-known to the public than ESAs are. They are professionally trained to perform tasks for their owners, such as opening doors. A service dog is awarded to people with disabilities. In addition, they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

It’s important to note that an emotional support dog is not the same as a service animal. The only thing they have in common is the label of assistance dogs. They are protected by different laws and have different rights.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Raleigh: CertaPet’s simple 5-minute process

Now that you know what an ESA is, you might be wondering, “But how do I get one?!” Luckily, CertaPet is here to make your life and this process easier. We handle all the paperwork and the boring bureaucracy. All you have to do is fill out some forms.

The first step is knowing if you’re eligible to be an ESA owner. You can take our pre-screening test, which will reveal whether or not we can continue with the process. If you are, you’ll go on to the next step: getting connected with a mental health professional. They will be the ones issuing you the ESA letter you’ll get very soon. Sometimes, this whole process only takes 48 hours!

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Thanks to this federal law, ESAs can travel by plane with their owners free of charge. Airlines have to provide reasonable accommodation for the owner and the ESA. To be covered by this law, you have to follow the following steps:

  • Give your airline a notice of at least 48 hours before departure that you’ll be traveling with an ESA.
  • Carry your ESA letter with you and show it to the airline.
  • Check with your airline if they ask for any additional documents.

Don’t forget that you should also assure the airline that your ESA won’t make a mess or be a nuisance to others. As long as you do this, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Employment Laws

Unfortunately, emotional support animals aren’t allowed in the workplace in Raleigh. However, you could try asking your employer for an exception to this rule. Since your ESA’s presence helps with your emotional and mental illness, they are essential to your well-being. Arguing would work on a case-by-case basis, so don’t forget to bring your ESA letter with you!

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

An emotional support animal in Raleigh can live with their owner in a rented unit. This gives all renters, regardless of mental disability, the same opportunity of finding a house. If you have an ESA, your landlord can’t charge you an extra pet fee. They must provide reasonable accommodation for the both of you.

For a tenant to be covered by the law, all they have to do is show their landlord the ESA letter. You should also make sure your ESA won’t be a nuisance to neighbors. The FHA law applies to all kinds of housing, including multiple- or single-family housing.

ESA Campus Housing

Luckily for students, the Fair Housing Act also applies to university housing. You’ll be afforded the same rights as any other tenant. To be protected by it, all you have to do is show your housing provider your ESA letter. Don’t forget to also make sure your ESA won’t be aggressive or harass other students in the residence hall.

emotional support animal in raleigh helping her owner studying

Exception to Rules

Your rights as an ESA owner might be revoked if you do something bad. Here is a list of instances in which the FHA and the ACAA might not apply to you anymore:

  • Failing to show your ESA letter or showing a fake one.
  • If your ESA causes any damages, you’ll have to pay for them.
  • Neglecting your ESA can lead the state to intervene and take them away from you.
  • An aggressive or unruly ESA won’t be allowed to board and can be denied housing.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

Passing off a pet as an assistance animal has great consequences in Raleigh and in North Carolina. When someone is caught doing so, they are charged with a class 3 misdemeanor. If they have no more than three prior convictions, they’ll have to pay a fine of up to $200.

It’s not that difficult getting an emotional support animal in Raleigh when you have a mental disability. Why not do it the legal way and avoid repercussions?

4 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

Knowledge is power, so it’s important to know everything about having an ESA before being awarded one. Here are four essential pieces of information you should know:

  1. Emotional support animals are not therapy animals, psychiatric service animals, therapy dogs, or pets. They’re their own thing and have special rights.
  2. ESAs are always awarded by a mental health professional. They will also be the ones to issue your ESA letter.
  3. Emotional support animals don’t always have to be dogs. They can be cats or even miniature horses!
  4. You can only bring your furry friend to pet-friendly establishments, not ones that don’t have a pet policy.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

Virtually any animal on the ESA list can become your new companion animal. Since the ESA letter is award to you, the patient, there’s no such thing as an “ESA approved” animal.

If you have a pet, they could become your new ESA. If you don’t, there are always animal shelters looking for new, responsible owners. Think about it, adopting a shelter dog or cat would only have positives. Firstly, they could become your new best friend. Secondly, you’d be giving them a new chance to be happy in a good home. It’s the best of both worlds!

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal

Owning an emotional support animal in Raleigh is a great thing. The city has a lot to offer to ESA owners, namely a lot of pet-friendly establishments. It’s normal to want to take your ESA somewhere with you. Because of this, we’ve compiled a list of places to bring them to in Raleigh, NC.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Let your ESA run free in one of these dog parks:

  • Carolina Pines Community Dog Park
  • Millbrook Exchange Dog Park
  • Sal’s Branch Trail — William B. Umstead State Park
  • Oakwood Dog Park

Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

ESA in raleigh at a dog friendly restaurant

You can bring your emotional support dog to one of these restaurants and bars with you. You can come here to have a drink or grab a bite to eat with your best friend!

  • The Players’ Retreat
  • The Flying Biscuit Cafe
  • Village Draft House
  • Clouds Brewing
  • Buster’s Real Ice Cream

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

If you’re staying with your emotional support animal in Raleigh, these are the best places to check into:

  • La Quinta Inn & Suites Raleigh Cabtree
  • Red Roof PLUS+ Raleigh NCSU Convention Center
  • Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Raleigh Cary
  • Hampton Inn and Suites Raleigh Cary I-40 RBC Center

ESAs in Raleigh: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your City Today!

The days of looking on the yellow pages for a licensed mental health professional are over. And so are the hours you could spend looking for one online. Here at CertaPet, we take care of everything. As soon as you’re done taking your screening test, we’ll analyze the results. If you qualify as an ESA owner, we’ll put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional in your area.

As you can see, getting an emotional support animal in Raleigh, NC, isn’t as difficult as it may seem. With the help of CertaPet, you’ll be holding your new best friend in no time!

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