Emotional Support Animals are something we live with and need. Much like Service Animals, they do
perform important and significant functions for persons with disabilities, in daily life and in compliance
with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Their presence and interaction with us provide a growing and now more well documented number of health benefits that are physical, mental and emotional in nature.
In the news you have probably heard some people pushing the envelope or expanding definition of
ESA's often in travel accomodations for perons with disabilities under the ADA. More recent is the
huge peacock an owner insisted the airline have travel and accompany for the flight. I believe that
is beyond the scope of the ADA and its protections to include zoo and farm animals in the definition
of what is an ESA. They should remain at the zoo or on the farm, and only domesticated cats and dogs, maybe a ferret, can truly qualify as an ESA under the ADA. The keywords are and have been
a reasonable accomodation.
This is a developing area of law, and more cases are being brought against landlords and property
owners who refuse to allow ESA's to reside in rental housing, and refuse to comply with the ADA in
other aspects of reasonable accomodations as well, like other service animals, wheelchair ramps,
grab bars, stair lifts, 36" doors for wheelchairs, HVAC and lighting controls within reach, etc.
ESA owners need to comply with the requirements of the ADA for their animals to be documented
as ESA's. This takes the form of a letter from a health professional for the owner and the animal(s)
and is required to be produced on demand from a landlord or property owner to be documented in
receiving the reasonable accomodation requested. Most if not all states require rabies vaccinations
yearly at a minimum. One jurisdiction interested in moving to has a limit of 10 fur-bearing animals
even for homeowners. Many have leash and/or noise laws. Property managers are the worst they
have rules on numbers, weights, breeds allowed, and other restrictions. I'm sure many can relate
to the 100 pound hound stomping on the apartment floor above you, or the barking dog in middle
of the night distrubing your peaceful, quiet enjoyment of the premises you rent after 10:00 P.M.
After losing my entire family over the years, most recent my mother, I replaced the cats who died
with ferals I rescued, and domesticated them. Not only do they provide me emotional support in
their company, I have done the community some real services. I stopped a feral colony from be-
coming any larger, and now the kittens live indoors only and happy, healthy lives without being a
nuisance or burden to my neighbors.
Please, observe the animal laws you need to comply with first, before obtaining any reasonable
accomodation under the ADA for your ESA's. Don't be intimidated or afraid to pursue regulators
or file suit when your rights to freedom of association and equal protection under the 1st and 14th
Amendments are being violated, and a reasonable accomodation under the ADA is not granted.
You have the right to live where you want, and have your Emotional Support Animals with you.