How to Get an ESA Letter in Kansas: A Complete Guide2022-10-12
You might think that getting an ESA letter involves the same process in each state, but you'd be wrong.
Though federal laws govern a good deal of conduct regarding service dogs and emotional support animals, several state legislatures have adopted specific laws and guidelines.
Kansas is one of those states. If you're living with a physical, emotional, or psychological disorder and believe you may qualify for an emotional support animal, start your research here. Getting an emotional support animal by your side can broaden the horizons of how you live and what you do, and an ESA letter is the first step. Keep reading to learn how to get an ESA letter in Kansas.
Do You Qualify for an ESA Letter in Kansas?
The laws around emotional support animals are much looser than they are around service dogs. It may be helpful to clarify the difference between these two classifications.
Service Dogs are canines specially trained to perform physical actions that their disabled owners cannot perform, such as opening doors, retrieving medication, and calling for help. They must be dogs, undergo training, and receive reasonable accommodations. As assistance animals for people with disabilities, they gain special access to places like airplanes, apartments, and restaurants.
Emotional support animals can be any animal, and owners can seek them out for various emotional or psychological disorders. If you have depression, PTSD, or agoraphobia, you may benefit from owning an emotional support animal.
Unlike service dogs, ESAs do not need specific training to perform the vital function they serve as companions and helpmates. But because of that, they have significantly fewer rights than are afforded service dogs. An ESA letter can help ensure you receive the rights and protections guaranteed under federal and state law.
The distinctions between service dogs and emotional support animals ultimately mean that whether you qualify for an ESA letter is in the hands of a licensed mental health professional who can certify you could benefit from one.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Kansas
Only licensed mental health professionals can write you an ESA letter. Though emotional support animals are not the same as psychiatric dogs, they can be procured for psychiatric-based reasons, having to do with the owner's mood or mental state.
For this reason, you’ll need to speak to a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) to obtain an ESA letter. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician and ask for a referral to see a psychiatrist. From there, they can evaluate you and write you the ESA letter that you can carry with you into restaurants or parks, wherever you think it may help keep your pet by your side.
What's Inside a Kansas ESA Letter
Once you visit a mental health professional, if they certify that you are eligible to keep an emotional support animal, they will write you an ESA letter. That letter needs to have these essential pieces of information:
- The name, letterhead, and contact information of the LMHP
- Your name
- The details of your diagnosis or how the clinician assessed you
- A recommendation for an ESA as assistance for what ills you
- The date and signature of the LMHP
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter in Kansas
There are many benefits to getting your ESA letter that make it easier to go in public with your assistance animal without worrying that an establishment will turn you away. Here are some benefits that impact travel, housing, savings, and more.
Travel Easier With Your Pet
Unfortunately, due to updates made to the Air Carriers Access Act in 2021, it's no longer possible to travel on an airplane with your emotional support animal. You must have a trained and certified service dog to fly.
But that doesn't mean traveling with your emotional support animal is impossible. First, certain airlines may make exceptions for your animal—you can have an emotional support cat, for example, and bring it on your plane in a kennel. Airlines have the final say on whether they will allow ESAs in the cabin or cargo.
You can also travel by car, train, bus, and more with your ESA. And beyond transportation, you can take your ESA to stay with you in hotels that have pet-compliant policies, restaurants that will make accommodations, on beaches and hikes, and more.
Keep Your ESA in School and Your Apartment
There are laws around service dogs, emotional support animals, and places like schools, restaurants, libraries, and private dwellings. Places like schools and public libraries are subject to federal laws because they are federally funded.
While individual schools and libraries may make exceptions for certain emotional support animals, especially if you have an ESA letter, you had better stick to the ADA, Air Carriers Access Act, and Fair Housing Act guidelines.
Property owners are required to allow service dogs according to the Fair Housing Act, given that they help their owners feed themselves, dress themselves, and get through life. ESAs have similar rights to accommodation, but you will need to write a letter to your landlord, HOA, or property manager if you're encountering problems keeping your emotional support animal at home.
Save on Pet Fees
ESA letters make it easier to have pet fees waived. Under the guidelines of the FHA, for example, landlords cannot charge you pet deposit fees, even in circumstances where they don’t allow pets.
Other establishments also may waive pet fees if you can furnish an ESA letter and demonstrate the animal has official status. Hotels may charge anywhere from $25-$75 per day to allow pets in their rooms, but an ESA letter may help free you from that monetary obligation. It means more freedom to travel and save money.
Help Navigate Pain, Trauma, and Disability
The purpose of emotional support animals in the first place is to help their owners navigate pain, trauma, and disability. If you have an emotional or mental health condition, an animal may help alleviate those symptoms and calm you in times of distress.
These companions will keep your life filled with love; they can give you attention. They can help you muster the strength to complete life's endless list of tasks when you don't have the energy.
An ESA letter makes it easier to navigate life without facing discrimination so that you can have your assistance animal by your side.
Emotional Support Animals Laws in Kansas
When it comes to laws around emotional support animals, there are two basic tiers. There are federal laws and state laws that govern what you can and cannot do. The federal laws are relatively straightforward and understandable, but state laws, including the laws in Kansas, can be harder to understand and are subject to sudden change.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was signed into law in 1990. It is the most robust bill of rights for people with disabilities in the United States. To this day, though many updates have occurred, it is the principal bundle of protections that allows people with disabilities to live equally and prosper.
According to Titles II and III of the ADA, emotional support animals are not synonymous with service dogs. They don't fall into the main five categories of life-saving service dogs, such as seeing eye dogs, hearing dogs, psychiatric service dogs, SSigDOG or sensory/social signal dogs, or seizure response dogs.
As such, emotional support animals do not qualify for the same protections under the ADA as service dogs.
Fair Housing Act
First signed into law under the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act protects Americans from discrimination. It entitles them to petition for redress to that discrimination if it falls under one of these categories: against race or color, religion, sex, national origin, family status, and disability.
The disability stipulation allows people with disabilities to keep a service animal at home, but the same privilege does not extend to emotional support animals de facto.
That said, many property managers make exceptions and may allow your ESA even if it’s a no-pet housing facility. The best course of action is to speak with the landlord to see if they are willing to work with you.
Air Carriers Access Act
This law allowed emotional support animals on planes for many years. However, an update to the law in 2021 stipulated that qualifying pets are only service dogs, which they define as canines trained to perform specific tasks or work for a person with a disability.
In other words, the ACAA no longer offers ESAs protected status. Their final ruling made it so that individual airlines could decide whether to allow emotional support animals on flights.
A statute passed in Kansas in 2019 further illuminated the federal distinction of service dogs from emotional support animals but did not extend any more rights to ESAs.
According to the statute, an animal that provides emotional comfort, protection, or defense doesn’t automatically qualify as a service animal because those types of support are not necessarily related to accommodations for disabilities. The ruling made it so ESAs could not fall into the same category of assistance animals as service dogs.
How to Get an ESA Letter in Kansas: A Step-by-step Guide
1 . Research if You Qualify
To obtain an ESA in Kansas, you must first see if you qualify. Several conditions may qualify you for an ESA letter, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more.
2. Make an Appointment with A Licensed Mental Health Professional
If you think you'll qualify, visit a licensed mental health professional for an evaluation. They'll assess you and prescribe an ESA to support your condition if they believe you qualify.
3. Get Your ESA Letter
If your LMHP diagnoses you demonstrate a need for an ESA, they will write your ESA letter. You can show this document to anyone, from the restaurant proprietor to your apartment manager, if they're trying to keep your animal out.
Emotional support animals provide a vital source of comfort and companionship. See if you qualify for an emotional support animal today. ESA Registration of America has a network of qualified LMHPs in multiple states who can help you get started on receiving a diagnosis and having that ESA letter in hand. Get started today.
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