My Dog Is Very Large. Do Emotional Support Animals Have a Size Limit?2020-04-20
People with a range of emotional or mental conditions can benefit from an ESA. These animals help to accommodate a variety of disabilities and disorders, including anxiety, depression, panic attacks, phobias, or bipolar disorder.
For people with emotional or mental disorders, an emotional support animal can make them feel safer and loved. For example, many people suffer from anxiety when traveling on airplanes, and emotional support animals can help their owners to calm this stress. By staying focused on the animal, the ESA owner can feel more at ease instead of overwhelmed by their environment.
Emotional support animals are one of the most valuable assets for people with diagnosed emotional disabilities. The animals provide support to those in need, whether they suffer from anxiety or other ailments. ESAs also can be different types of animals, although the most common tend to be dogs.
A very large dog might present some tricky situations, especially when it comes to traveling or renting an apartment. In this article, we discuss size limits for ESAs, what it's like to live with an ESA, and breaking down the differences between service dogs vs. ESAs.
Are Their Minimum or Maximum Size Limits for ESAs?
There are no maximum or minimum size restrictions for emotional support animals—any animal, whether a cat, dog, or bird, can qualify. Also, no matter the breed of dog, they can become ESAs.
For different people, various breeds or species may be appropriate for their condition. A dog might be better for someone with anxiety, but other ESAs such as cats can offer different therapeutic benefits.
While there are no limitations, enormous emotional support animals can come up against possible restrictions in some situations. Certain airlines have banned ESAs of a certain size since they can present problems in the sight confines of a plane. Further, exotic animals are no longer able to fly on planes even if they have been considered to be support animals.
Service Dogs vs. ESAs
Emotional support animals are different from service animals in that they do not have the right to access all public places. Emotional support animals can go onto airplanes and live in the pet-free housing areas. Service dogs, however, can accompany their owner wherever they go.
It's crucial to know the difference between a service dog and ESA because it can determine which areas the animal can access, depending on its status. The two types of animals also require different proof and legitimization.
Service animals undergo training to do a specific task and provide a particular service to their human owners. Emotional support animals provide therapeutic support for their handlers, and they do not have to undergo any training.
To have your pet qualify as an ESA, a mental health professional must determine the role the animal plays in the owner's life, and if the pet provides any therapeutic value. A psychological evaluation can decide whether or not you qualify for this pet.
Flying with an ESA
All airlines have size restrictions when it comes to traveling with your pet in-cabin. The cats and dogs must be able to fit in the floor space underneath the seat in front of you. Otherwise, they will need to fly in cargo. For some airlines, certain breeds are not allowed to fly. Also, there are additional fees when it comes to flights.
With ESAs, the situation is different. Airlines recognize that emotional support animals do provide psychiatric support for those in need, even if they may not have the task-specific training that service dogs have to help someone with a disability.
Emotional support animals have protection under the Air Carriers Access Act. ESAs can fly, regardless of breed or size, and the owner does not have to pay a pet fee. However, the owner must submit documentation—known as an ESA prescription letter—to validate the animal's status as an ESA. As well, they will need to provide notification in advance that the animal will be on a flight or a rental lease.
Living with an ESA
When it comes to emotional support animals, landlords, and other managers of properties must make reasonable accommodations for their tenants even if the facility does not allow pets.
While ESAs do not have size restrictions in apartments, the tenant is required to have other documentation proving the animal is an ESA. Also, it is common for property owners or managers to ask for health documentation for the ESA. This documentation is different from documentation proving that you need the emotional support animal. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits property owners from inquiring or demanding proof of your medical condition.
There should also be no fees unless the animal causes damage to the property. The Fair Housing Authority protects ESAs and their owners, so handlers shouldn't face discrimination when it comes time to rental properties.
Why Are the Rules Set This Way?
The rules exist because emotional support animals and their owners can face discrimination in public places, and they need protection under the law. These rules make it so that ESAs can travel wherever their owners go and provide the emotional support needed, anytime, anywhere.
However, because of the critical differences between service animals and emotional support animals, they face different rules and restrictions. Service animals may be able to accompany their owners into places where ESAs may not.
Airlines set some restrictions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of other passengers as well as themselves. As long as specific documentation is on-hand, ESAs can fly in-cabin for individuals with disabilities. Vaccination and other health records for the animal may be required, too, so that everyone knows the animal is entirely safe.
ESAs: A Real Support System
Emotional support animals are a great asset to those in need, offering many emotional and psychological benefits. They provide comfort and peace to their owner every day, which is why it's essential that they can be present wherever their owner is. It's crucial to protect these animals so that people can receive the proper emotional support.
Although there are no restrictions on size for ESAs, it's essential to know your rights and the different requirements for flying or renting a property. Knowing your rights is the best way to protect yourself and your emotional support animal.
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