Emotional support animal (ESA) are support and companion animals who provide their owners with constant love and care.
Individuals who qualify for an emotional support animal suffer from mental or emotional disabilities such as:
These emotional support animals must not be confused with service animals.
Service dogs/therapy dogs are individually trained to assist people dealing with physical disabilities whereas an emotional support dog provides its owner with love and comfort by just being there with him.
Remember, that you aren’t legally required to register your dog, in fact, there is no such thing as an “ESA registration”.
The only legal document required for ESA owners to have their pet accompany them wherever they go is an ESA Letter.
A valid ESA Letter is obtained by a licensed therapist or another mental health professional. There are laws for ESA owners and ESA but are only applicable if you possess a valid ESA letter.
The Fair Housing Act:
Under this law, you can easily find a pet housing society as landlords are prohibited from denying accommodation to individuals with an ESA.
Landlords can’t legally ask you to pay extra pet fee or any other additional charges.
Air Carrier Access Act:
Under the air carrier act and the disabilities act (ADA) discrimination against individuals with mental disabilities.
These individuals are allowed to take their pets with them to different public places and can fly with their pets on commercial flights without any additional costs.
Now, if you already have an emotional support animal continue reading to find out how you can travel with them.
Your ESA needs to be protected on the road.
Congratulations! You’ve qualified for and purchased your valid, legitimate ESA Letter! You can now rent almost any living space you like, and you can jet around the country with your well-behaved Emotional Support Animal right there in the passenger compartment with you.
But let’s face it: your ESA is your constant companion, and you spend plenty of time driving around in your car, SUV, or pickup truck. We all do. After all, what’s more fun than seeing your floppy-eared canine hanging his head out the window as you speed down the expressway?
Taking our ESA pets along for the ride is simply good fun and we do it all the time. But travelling with your Emotional Support Animal on the roads can also be a bit complicated and is sometimes very stressful --- which almost defeats the whole purpose of having an ESA in the first place!
With that in mind, here are some practical tips that will keep both you and your Emotional Support Animal safe, calm, and stress-free:
Use the backseat:
It’s not just a convenient place for you to carry groceries or for you to store last week’s gym clothes. The fact of the matter is that any pet is safer in the rear seat of your vehicle.
That’s where your ESA is less likely to be injured by sudden stops (and who doesn’t have to hit the brakes in today’s insane traffic quickly?) or evasive maneuvers you may be forced to make.
And, in the worst case scenario of a fender-bender or crash that deploys your car’s airbags, your Emotional Support Animal (ESA) won’t be injured by the instantaneous and violent impact.
The less your beloved pet moves around (jumping back and forth from the front seat to the back seat is a serious no-no) inside your vehicle, the safer for all concerned.
Be prepared for the unexpected:
If you’re driving into unfamiliar territory (anytime you use your GPS or smartphone mapping app), you need to have a contingency plan in case your Emotional Support Animal becomes suddenly ill or injured.
You should know where the nearest veterinary or emergency pet clinic is on your route. When your ESA dog is vomiting blood in the backseat, that is not the time to figure out what to do or where to go next.
If you stop in unfamiliar territory so Fido can relieve himself --- what if he gets bitten by a snake in those bushes? Emergencies happen and you know where to go for help.
Your Emotional Support Animal does not own a driver’s license:
Not only is it extremely distracting and dangerous for you to allow your pet to sit in your lap when you’re behind the wheel, it’s illegal in all jurisdictions.
There are enough distractions with your pet inside the vehicle without trying to control your direction of travel with your arms around a fluffy, unpredictably over-reactive animal between you and the steering wheel.
In the centre of most of today’s steering wheels, there is a powerful, explosive force just waiting to blast right in your face: your airbag.
Imagine what would happen to your pet if it suddenly deployed while he’s sitting in your lap. A serious injury would be the least of it because airbags can deliver deadly force in an instant.
Is your Emotional Support Animal a cat?
Even though Tabby may be the calmest, most well-mannered feline in the species, free-roaming cats are extremely dangerous inside a moving vehicle.
They move quickly and unpredictably, often scurrying under brake pedals, climbing on top of your head, or suddenly needing to scratch something.
Cats must be transported in a secured pet carrier, and that pet carrier should be secured to the rear seat with a seatbelt. Your cat may not like it at first, but once the initial wailing is over, he’ll settle down for the ride and you’ll both be safe travellers.
Use well-designed pet restraints:
A wide range of safety gear is now available for the protection of pets travelling in vehicles.
These “pet seat belts” come in a variety of mechanisms and styles, depending on the size and species of the Emotional Support Animal to be restrained.
These devices are quite effective at allowing your pet a modicum of movement while keeping them in place where they belong. The first time you use one on your pet, make it a short trip.
Extend the length of trips with the device until your pet understands that this is the new normal, and both you and your Emotional Support Animal will be happier and safe.
Keep it short:
Don’t expect your pet to have the bladder strength of an adult human. Travelling with your Emotional Support Animal is akin to travelling with young children in the car.
Frequent rest stops, bathroom breaks, leg-stretches, and plenty of snacks along the way make any journey more tolerable for all concerned.
That means you should always have a pet bowl, leashes, bedding, poop bags/scoopers, water, food, and treats along for those longer rides.
And be sure to have collars with ID tags/licenses on each of your travelling pets. More than one dog has been known to suddenly take off to explore a new neighbourhood, leaving its owner standing there with a broken leash.
Be ready to deal with the weather:
On longer trips, you may stop to enjoy the tourist sights, dine at a restaurant, or go shopping. At those times, leaving your pet unattended in your vehicle is not an option.
Even on a mild, 72-degree day, the temperature inside your car can climb by thirty deadly degrees in mere minutes.
Your Emotional Support Animal is there for you --- be there for him too. Bring your ESA Letter and any additional documentation with you on all journeys, and only patronize those establishments who respect the legal requirements it calls for.
Another often-overlooked reason for never leaving your pet unattended in your vehicle: they have a curious habit of finding the door lock buttons and locking their owners out of the car!
Pet-proof the car before driving off:
Emotional Support Animals are loving, caring, and watchful but they’re also playful and know how to get into all sorts of trouble.
Those power window switches in the back seat? Lots of fun to play with, particularly if your pet’s paws are small enough to activate them and lower the window.
Use the door lock mechanism, or you might just find your pal jumping out the rear window at the slightest temptation. While you’re rolling down the highway, avoid the temptation to allow your pet to hang its head out of an open window.
Yes, Fido might like the sensation of the wind flapping his ears, but there are insects and the random pebbles flying around during high-speed travel that can seriously injure your pet, and any sudden stop could be deadly to an animal hanging its head out of your car window.
Going on road trips with pets can be fun and emotionally fulfilling, to be sure. Just make your next ride a safe one for all concerned, and be sure you’re travelling with a legitimate, legally-enforceable ESA Letter.
If you are in need of a legitimate emotional support animal letter; contact realesaletter.com and the licensed mental health professionals will write an ESA letter so your pet can accompany you everywhere you go.
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We provide the only legally enforceable emotional support animal documentation online. Our mental health professionals provide the legal documentation to certify your pet as an emotional support animal.