This week in ESA news, retail stores are making moves to define the differences between service animals and emotional support animals, as confusion reigns as to where ESAs are permitted. This story is a must-read if you are a current or potential ESA owner. Check out this week’s news to find out exactly what went down in the world of ESAs!
Walmart Leads Retailers in Saying ‘No’ to Emotional Support Animals
Walmart, the ubiquitous supermarket giant which exerts huge power in the retail sector, has reminded customers this week that their emotional support animals (ESAs) are not permitted in stores. The top retailer in the United States has begun adding signage in many stores, reading: “Service animals welcome. No Pets.”
Servic animals and emotional support animals may appear similar, but in fact, have different functions and laws protecting them. Service animals are broadly covered by the American Disability Act (ADA), allowing them to accompany their owners at all times to assist them with their disabilities by completing specific tasks. Emotional support animals enjoy lesser allowances under the Aircraft Carrier Access Act (ACA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which allow ESAs to fly and live with their owners.
However, unlike the ADA, the laws for emotional support animals do not extend to private property. Private property can include shops, restaurants, supermarkets, common areas of colleges and other privately owned spaces. This is often where the confusion arises, as many ESA owners believe that their animal is permitted in all spaces with them, which currently, is not the case.
A Walmart spokeswoman said that the retailer’s policy isn’t changing but the new signage was simply to remind people of its position on non-service animals in its stores.
“We just wanted to make a clarification,” said Tara Aston of Walmart. “Sometimes it’s a little murky what is, and isn’t, allowed when it comes to animals in our stores.”
Other retailers that do not allow emotional support animals in their stores include Publix, Target, Barnes and Noble, Macy’s and Sephora. If you’re looking for ESA and pet-friendly stores, Bass Pro Shops, Home Depot, and Lowe’s welcome all leashed pets.
Pet stores such as PetCo and Pet Smart also encourage customers with pets on leash to visit their store. If you wish to take your ESA on private property, it is important to know that admittance is solely at the discretion of the enterprise or individual that owns that property.
If you plan on taking your ESA somewhere with you, it is always a wise idea to phone ahead and clarify whether your pet will be admitted. Genuine service animals are always allowed in any public or privately owned space.
CertaPet’s View on Stores Barring ESAs
It is well within the right of company’s such as Walmart to bar ESAs from their stores. The reason why service animals are generally allowed in private or public settings is because they are protected by the ADA and because they can be trusted due to their extensive training. ESAs are not required to have any training, so there is no standard by which to measure the behavior of ESAs in general.
CertaPet supports the presence of legitimate ESAs within the boundaries of the laws which protect them, namely: the ACAA and the FHA.
If you fancy some shopping (in pet-friendly stores mind you!) with an emotional support animal, CertaPet has made the process of getting an ESA letter quick and simple!
Simply start by taking our free online 5-minute pre-screening, and if your answers indicate that you may qualify for an ESA, we will connect you with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) and you could have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hrs!