The Guide to Emotional Support Animals in San Diego, CA

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 14, 2021

If you suffer from a mental or emotional disability, it can be a major benefit to have an emotional support animal who can provide you with companionship and care. These well-trained creatures can be there for you, can help you when you are struggling and can make it easier to do day to day activities. The difference between an Emotional Support Animal and other types of assistance animals, such as service dogs, is that ESAs are not required to have any kind of specialized experience or training. To learn more about emotional support animals and the specific legal protections they have, as well as where to take your emotional support animal in San Diego, read on.

Emotional Support Animal in San Diego

While other states such as New York are stricter on the rules, California has more extensive legislation that is designed to protect emotional support animals.

Travel Laws

If you want to fly with your emotional support animal in San Diego airport, you will need to obtain a letter from a licensed healthcare professional that declares your mental health disability and your need for that animal. The letter must be printed on the official letterhead of the health-care professional, must indicate the type of health care they practice and it must be less than one-year-old.

If this letter is provided, your animal will be protected by a federal law called the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) that allows them to travel for free in the cabin.

Also, you should give 48 hours of advance notice to the airline carrier if you will be traveling with your emotional support animal.

Employment Laws

Many employers in California are required to accommodate the disabilities of employees in reasonable ways and allow emotional support animals in the workplace – unless it would “cause undue hardship.”

The support animal needs to be free from any offensive odors, has to be potty-trained and cannot engage in behavior that endangers the health and safety of anyone in the workplace.

Although California law requires that the animal in the workplace be trained to provide assistance for the employee’s disability, Federal law overrides this and states that an emotional support animal in San Diego does not need to be specifically trained. So, California employers are not allowed to require support animals to have training.

The California Law applies to employers when they have five or more employees, Federal disability provisions apply to employers when they have at least 15 employees.

Housing Laws

Adhering to the Fair Housing Act (FHA), in the state of California, tenants have the right to bring emotional support animals to live with them in many circumstances. Landlords and other housing providers must make reasonable accommodations in their rules in order to afford a person with a disability to equally use and enjoy an apartment or house.

So, for example a landlord who would not usually allow tenants or residents to keep pets on the premises may be required to allow an individual with a mental or emotional disability to keep an emotional support animal in San Diego.

The landlord can only refuse to let a tenant keep a support animal if the specific animal poses a threat to the safety or health of others or would cause substantial damage to the property of others. This must be based on objective evidence of the specific animal’s conduct, not on fear or speculation.

Exception to Rules

There are some exceptions – of course. For example, public places in San Diego are not required to admit emotional support animals, even if they are required to do so for service animals.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in San Diego

The first step to getting an emotional support animal in San Diego is to have a letter from your licensed mental health professional that outlines your specific mental or emotional disability and your need for such an animal.

The process of getting this animal used to be difficult and complex, but fortunately CertaPet has created a simpler, easier process. In a free five-minute screening you can answer some simple questions from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and get a prescription for an emotional support animal.

The ESA letter from CertaPet meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is 100% HIPAA compliant and meets other emotional support animal laws.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal in San Diego

Looking for places where you and your support animal can visit together? Here are a few locations in San Diego that are emotional support animal friendly.

The Patio on Lamont Street – At this laid back outdoor dining spot, your emotional support animal will receive a gourmet homemade dog biscuit and a fresh bowl of water. However, the space can be cramped when it is busy, so it may not be the best option for large dogs.
North Beach Dog Run – This beautiful beach is an off-leash area in Coronado where your animal companion can play and splash in the surf.
Extraordinary Desserts Little Italy – At this lovely and welcoming little café on Union Street you can enjoy an array of yummy sweet treats, served up on the dog-friendly patio.
Fiesta Island Off-Leash Dog Park – At this large sandy island in Mission Bay your emotional support dog will be able to run leash-free, romping in the sandy dunes and the calm waters of the bay.

When you are aware of the laws and protections, your emotional support animal in San Diego can come with you nearly anywhere – providing you with companionship and care whenever you need it.

Want to Know if You Qualify for an ESA?

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