Emotional support pets are incredibly beneficial to those with emotional disabilities. They provide companionship and can help alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety. Some people even rely on ESAs to help them deal with certain phobias. If you own an emotional support animal, you can be exempted from certain travel and housing restrictions.
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the number of emotional support animals one person is allowed to have.
In some cases, an individual will need multiple emotional support animals to live comfortably from day to day.
Those with many ESAs may have questions about the legalities surrounding them. How many are you allowed to have in your home? How many need to be accommodated in public places? Are you allowed to travel with multiple ESAs?
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about owning and living with more than one emotional support animal.
How Many Emotional Support Animals Can a Person Have?
You can have as many or few emotional support animals as you need. There are no specific rules that govern the amount of ESA’s one can own. Typically, the therapist letter will define the breed and name of the ESA.
What the Americans with Disabilities Act Says
The Americans with Disabilities Act is written for service dog owners not for ESA owners. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, some people require multiple service dogs to complete everyday activities. As a result, this law doesn’t restrict how many service dogs one person can have. The ADA does not apply to emotional support animals.
What the Fair Housing Act Says
The Fair Housing Act gets a little more specific when it comes to landlords’ no pet policies. In general, the Fair Housing Act protects renters and buyers from discrimination based on factors like sex, race, religion, national origin, and disability.
When it comes to owning emotional support animals, landlords have the responsibility to not discriminate against someone who has an emotional disability and relies on an ESA.
Property owners must modify their pet policies within reason to allow someone to live with their ESA.
Animal owners must be extended the same rights as any other tenants. You should have full access to all of a property’s facilities and amenities.
If you have more than one emotional support animal, you and your landlord must agree on specific terms for your living arrangement.
How Do I Qualify to Have Multiple Emotional Support Animals?
If you want to have one emotional support animal, you must seek an ESA letter. To obtain an ESA letter, you must be a current patient under a mental health professional. Some airlines and landlords will accept an ESA letter from a family physician. However, you will need a qualified mental health professional like a psychiatrist or therapist in most cases.
Your disability must fall under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders Version V. These disabilities include cognitive, learning, sexual, and substance-related disorders.
Your ESA letter must also show that:
- Your disability restricts your participation in one or more major life activities
- Your emotional support animal is an integral part of your treatment plan
When it comes to qualifying for more than one emotional support animal, you need to obtain your mental health professional’s approval. He or she may determine that you are unfit to care for several due to your living situation or other circumstances. If this is the case, you may still request an ESA letter to own just one emotional support animal.
Once you have received your ESA letter, you may want to also register your ESAs with a reliable organization. Registering an ESA at ESA Registration of America allows you to receive timely updates on legal matters that may pertain to your ESA. However, simply registering your animal does not automatically make it into a support animal.
How To Live With Multiple Emotional Support Animals
Living with several ESAs is a lot like owning regular pets. However, there are some special considerations to take into account.
How big is your house or apartment? Is there a big backyard or another outside space available for your pets to get some fresh air?
Your emotional support animals should be able to live in a comfortable, spacious environment. Too many pets in a small space can cause sanitation issues and compromise their health.
If you are going to live in a small apartment, one or two small ESAs may be all that you can accommodate. If you live in a home with a lot of space, you may be able to reasonably care for larger animals. Some individuals with a lot of living space may even be able to live with and care for unconventional animals like monkeys, pigs, ducks, or miniature horses. Some therapists though will not feel comfortable writing a prescription letter for exotic animals. ESA Registration, for example, only writes ESA letters for dogs and cats.
Your Animals’ Comfort
How comfortable will your animals be with each other? To create a safe and stress-free living environment, they should all get along. Different breeds or species may be aggressive toward one another. If there are too many animals in a confined space, they may become irritable, agitated, and unable to offer the emotional support you need.
You and a mental health professional should work together to determine if your animals will be able to live together.
If you already have a timid or unsocialized pet, introducing another one into your household may not be a good idea.
When it comes to deciding how many pets you need, you should determine if you are comfortable providing for them. Consider factors like feeding, cleaning, grooming, and veterinary visits. Will the financial stress and emotional capacity of caring for several pets worsen your condition? If so, you should opt for one pet or several pets with low maintenance like fish.
Will there be other people caring for your pets? If you have helpful hands on deck, owning several emotional support animals will be more manageable.
Do ESAs Need Training Like Service Animals Do?
Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not required to be trained. However, you should teach them basic commands and obedience. You should also try to socialize them when possible. This will ensure they’ll be on their best behavior in your home and whenever you travel on an airplane.
Training your ESAs out of annoying habits like barking, jumping on people, and begging for food will make it easier to care for and travel with them.
Flying With Multiple Emotional Support Animals
The Air Carrier Access Act protects air travelers from discrimination on the basis of disability. According to this act, you have the explicit right to travel with an ESA.
In ordinary circumstances, most airlines only allow one or two pets per passenger. If you plan on flying with many emotional support pets, you should call ahead to ensure no problems will arise.
To help the air travel process go smoothly, bring all of your pets’ ESA prescription letters with you. This way, you can present valid documentation if any issues do come up.
Some airlines will allow cats and dogs on but have certain breed restrictions. If you have a valid ESA letter and documentation, they may make exceptions for the type and number of pets allowed.
As you’re traveling with your ESAs, keep them under control at all times. Have them wear a leash and have them sit in your lap or a carrier. Before you decide to fly with them, ensure that they are well-behaved and obedient.
Keep in mind that ESAs are not granted the same comprehensive access to public places as service animals are. However, they are still given rights that are protected under federal laws.
Owning several ESAs can become complicated. You’ll need to obtain an ESA letter and always evaluate your pets’ needs as well as your own.
Contact our professionals at ESA registration if you have questions or need further clarification on anything we’ve discussed!