What Does Texas Law Say About Emotional Support Animals?
Emotional support animals provide support to a person suffering from a mental health illness. Whether it is a student struggling with anxiety or a veteran suffering from PTSD, an emotional support animal provides comfort and support in everyday life.
Patients living in Texas who have been prescribed emotional support animals by a mental health professional are entitled to certain protections when renting housing. Emotional support animals are companion animals that do not need to be trained, unlike service animals, and provide safety and a sense of well-being to their owner.
While Texas state law never specifically mentions emotional support animals, owners of ESAs are protected by one federal law in Texas: the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
Under this law, Texas ESA owners are able to live with their support animals, even in rental housing where pets are not normally allowed.
Can I Travel on Planes With My ESA?
Unfortunately, you cannot bring your ESA onto an airplane with you. The Air Carrier Access Act used to require airlines to make accommodations for these animals, but the Act has since changed. Now, only service dogs are allowed on airplanes.
If your ESA is small enough, some airlines may allow you to bring it with you into the cabin as a carry-on that you stow under your seat. Your pet and its carrier will have to meet the dimensions outlined by the airline and you will be charged a carry-on fee.
If your dog is your ESA, you may be able to train it to become a psychiatric service animal (PSA). PSAs perform tasks that help relieve distress caused by mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Because PSAs are service dogs, they are protected by the ACAA and allowed to travel in the cabin with their owners for free.
Be aware, though, that airlines have every right to make you fill out a form prior to your flight. This form asks questions about your dog’s training and ensures that you are aware that bad behavior from your dog will not be tolerated. When filling out these forms, you agree that your dog will be treated as a pet (and you may be charged a fee) if it is not well-behaved.
Can My ESA Accompany Me to Work in Texas?
By law, an employer does not need to accommodate emotional support animals because they are not protected under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).
However, it is not against the law for workplaces to allow emotional support animals, so if you express the need for your emotional support animal at work, your employer may make an exception. There has been a recent rise in the number of employers allowing emotional support animals as they see the value and impact it has on their employees.
What Do Texas Housing Laws Say about ESAs?
Rental housing in Texas is covered under the Fair Housing Act. This means anyone with a disability has the right to reasonable accommodation, which includes the right to live with emotional support animals. The law states any person with a disability, either mental or physical, is allowed to have their emotional support animal or service animal live with them in their home, even if it is has a no-pets policy.
This is the case for some housing on university property too. At the University of Texas, for example, emotional support animals are allowed in university housing but not in campus buildings or lecture halls.
If an emotional service animal causes a threat to the landlord or other tenants or causes damage to the property, the landlord can reject the emotional support animal from the accommodation.
How Can I Get an ESA Letter in Texas?
An ESA letter needs to be provided when requesting accommodation for you and your emotional support animal. We can provide you with everything you need to register your emotional support animal correctly. Simply call or schedule a consultation to speak to one of our licensed mental health professionals at US Service Animals in your state today to see if you qualify.
Once all the information is taken, you will receive your letter via email to print and use. By having this letter you can rest assured knowing that you will be protected under the Fair Housing Act.
How Can I Register My Dog as an Emotional Support Animal in Texas?
There is no need to register your animal in a database or get them a special license in order to take advantage of ESA protections. Your letter from a doctor is all that is needed for access to housing. Even if you don’t plan on moving home, you never know when you may need an ESA letter. With the easy and hassle-free registration from us at US Service Animals, you can register today and get your ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional via email, ready for you to print and use.
Is My Landlord Allowed to Charge Fees for My ESA
No, it is unlawful for landlords to charge any fees whatsoever for a certified emotional support animal who is living with you, though you are responsible for any damages caused to the property by the animal. This protection is guaranteed by the Fair Housing Act.
Can My Emotional Support Animal Stay at a Hotel in Texas with Me?
If you are planning to travel to Texas and stay in a hotel with your ESA, you should understand that hotels are not covered by the same portions of the Fair Housing Act as rental housing. Therefore, you are not entitled to stay at a hotel with your ESA unless the hotel is pet-friendly.
What is the Difference Between a Guide Dog and an Emotional Support Animal?
The law is very clear about the difference between a guide dog and an emotional support animal. Owners of both kinds of animals should be well aware of the difference. Guide dogs are dogs that have undergone specific training in order to assist their physically disabled owners with everyday tasks. These dogs are allowed to accompany their owners in any public establishment. Emotional support animals do not require specific training and are not allowed in most businesses that do not otherwise allow pets.
Can I Take My Emotional Support Animal to a Store or Restaurant in Texas?
Unlike a guide dog, an emotional support animal is not guaranteed entry to public areas under the Americans With Disabilities Act. In many jurisdictions, falsely portraying an ESA or other animal as a guide animal is a crime.
How Can I Choose a Reputable ESA letter provider?
Unfortunately, because there are so many patients seeking the protections provided to emotional support animal owners, there are many shady companies seeking to take advantage of them. One common scam is to provide patients with fake ESA letters from doctors who are not licensed to practice in the United States. There are even operations that have been caught selling forged ESA letters using the scanned letterhead of unsuspecting Doctors. Needless to say, this can lead to big problems for the animal owner trying to use these letters.
Reputable ESA providers like US Service Animals connect patients with medical professionals who are licensed to practice in their home state. A patient’s need for an ESA can only be properly evaluated through consultation with a professional, not an online form or a survey. Any site that claims otherwise should be avoided at all costs.