Weekly ESA News Report January 16th: Utah State Bill to Change ESA Rules

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emotional support dog reading a newspaperThe wheels of change already seem to be turning in 2019, with one state of the U.S. moving to pass a bill for the tightening of restrictions on emotional support animals (ESAs.) This week, the new state bill outlined a string of potential changes to the rules surrounding ESAs, in an attempt to make concessions and restrictions clearer to those that use the animals—and also to discourage those who abuse the system.

Let’s take a closer look at the proposed changes, and how they could affect you, and even the whole country on a broader scale.

Utah Regulatory Bill Regarding ESAs Seeks to Change Legislature

A bill has been filed in Utah this week, which seeks to regulate emotional support animals within the state.

Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, and Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, filed for House Bill 43, which seeks to give a clearer definition of what exactly constitutes an emotional support animal, tying it to the federal law for reasonable accommodation.

The bill also seeks to make it a misdemeanor crime to misrepresent an animal in order to reap the benefits afforded to a person with a disability needing a service animal or ESA.

The Humane Society of Utah supports the bill, saying that it wants Utah-state residents to become more informed of the differences between support, therapy, and service animals.

“Individuals with disabilities depend on their service animals, and we know that it can create a potentially dangerous and inconvenient situation for both people and pets if an animal is falsely portrayed as a service animal,” said Deann Shepherd, the group’s communications director. “We love our pets, and they provide companionship, comfort, and joy to our lives. However, a working service animal has received additional training that other pets may not have received to safely behave in public situations.”

The new bill would still require landlords to provide reasonable accommodation to those with ESAs under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which is a federal law.

If the bill passes, those in Utah who are misrepresenting ESAs could face being charged, meaning some may lose their right to have a pet as an ESA and face fines. However, for those with legitimate emotional support animals, there should be no consequence.

happy emotional support animal looking at camera

Legitmate ESA Owners: Don’t Be Alarmed, but Be Thankful

Overall, the move from Utah to change its laws should not be alarming to those with legitimate emotional support animals. In fact, the strengthening and refining of laws to protect the rights of ESA users is a positive thing as the animals become more and more popular throughout the U.S.

If the legislature passes, it will mean that stricter rules could actually allow more freedom for those that keep ESAs for genuine mental health concerns.

If you are someone who may qualify for 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!

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