An emotional support animal is truly a life-saving asset for hundreds of thousands of Americans. From rabbits to dogs (and many species in between), emotional support animals provide assistance and therapeutic benefits to help those living with mental disabilities or emotional trauma.
Anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, just to name a few, can make it extremely difficult to perform everyday activities. However, an emotional support animal can help ease the burden and make life a bit easier for those struggling with these issues.
It is important to note the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal. Service animals (typically dogs) have been trained to perform specific tasks that a person is incapable of performing on their own. For this reason, service animals are allowed in public spaces where other animals (possibly including emotional support animals) may not be allowed to go.
Alternatively, emotional support animals are not trained in specific tasks, nor are there as many limitations on the types of animals that qualify; dogs, cats, birds, and even miniature horses can qualify as emotional support animals.
In Indiana, as with other states, the Fair Housing Act covers the legal definitions of emotional support animals. This law helps protect emotional support animals and their owners when attempting to rent a living space.
Unfortunately, the Air Carrier Access Act no longer protects ESAs on flights. This law used to allow ESAs to ride in the cabin of airplanes with their handlers for free. The Act has been changed so that only service dogs are safe from being denied access to the cabins of airplanes.
If you want to bring your ESA onto an airplane, you may be able to do so if the animal is small enough. Some airlines allow pets to be brought as carry-ons in pet-safe carriers that can be stowed under your seat. It may not be as preferable as having your ESA on your lap, but at least it’ll still be nearby.
If your ESA is a dog, you might consider getting it trained to be a psychiatric service animal (PSA). PSAs perform tasks to relieve distress caused by mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. As such, PSAs are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act.
However, the airline still has the right to make you fill out a form prior to your flight. This form will ask about your dog’s training and will require you to agree that if your dog is unruly or aggressive it can be denied from traveling in the cabin with you.
Although employment is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that employers cannot discriminate against anyone with a disability, emotional support animals are not protected under this law.
However, if you have an ESA letter to show your employer in Indiana, you may be allowed to bring them into the workplace. This is determined on a case-by-case basis, so if your employer does not approve of having an emotional support animal in the workplace, unfortunately, you must abide by their decision.
Additionally, Indiana state law grants service animals the ability to be in certain public spaces with their owners, but this right does not extend to emotional support animals.
In Indiana, the Fair Housing Act provides certain protections for those with certain kinds of assistance animals. According to the Fair Housing Act, landlords have the right to request an ESA letter when applicant’s request accommodations for their service animal.
However, they are limited in how and what they can ask of a potential tenant. They are only permitted to ask the following questions:
- “Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability (a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities)?
- Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? (afford a person with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy the dwelling).”
Additionally, landlords must abide by the following guidelines related to assistance animals:
- “Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to assistance animal.
- Animals other than dogs can be assistance animals.
- Housing providers may ask for documentation of the disability-related need for an assistance animal if the disability is not apparent.
- The decision must be based on individualized assessment relying on objective evidence about the specific animal’s actual conduct–not based on mere speculation that the animal may cause harm or on evidence of harm or damage caused by other animals.
- Landlords can request proof of current vaccination and/or license for the assistance animal.
- Landlords can expect the tenant to conform to the rules of the complex, i.e. picking up animal waste, maintaining the unit to the extent expected of every other tenant.
- A landlord cannot require the assistance animal to have any specific training or certification.
- A landlord cannot require the assistance animal to wear or carry any special collar, harness, vest, emblem or other means of identifying it as such.
- Pet deposits or pet fees are not allowed.”
While the ADA and Indiana state law require landlords to admit both service and emotional support animals, there are exceptions to the rule.
In certain circumstances, landlords are allowed to refuse an emotional support animal if it “would impose an undue financial and administrative burden, if it would fundamentally alter the essential nature of the housing provider’s services, or if the specific assistance animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.”
In any case, you should make sure to get your ESA letter with US Service Animals as soon as possible, especially if you plan to travel with your pet. You can also learn more about Indiana’s state requirements and regulations for emotional support animals right here.
Service Animals Laws in Indiana
Service animals are different from ESAs; for in-depth information on the laws pertaining to service dogs in Indiana, read on.
Psychiatric Service Dog in Indiana
Indiana service dog law closely adheres to the federal regulations set forth for service animal public accommodations by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to both of these laws, service animals are defined as dogs that complete disability-related tasks for their owners to help support or relieve certain symptoms of medical, physical, or psychiatric disabilities.
A psychiatric service dog is granted public accommodation protections and fair housing protections by both Indiana state law and the ADA, and individuals needing the help of a psychiatric service dog may take their companion animal with them to most public or private locations in the state, even if the facility doesn’t typically allow animals.
Notable conditions that a psychiatric service dog might help with include anxiety, intellectual disabilities, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD.
PTSD Service Dog in Indiana
PTSD service dogs are psychiatric service dogs that have specifically been trained to help relieve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This condition typically develops after an individual has been exposed to a traumatic experience, and it is commonly seen in individuals that have served in the military, with veterans having one of the highest occurrences of this condition.
PTSD service dogs help individuals by retrieving medication, items, and water as needed, guiding their owner to a safe or calm space, providing distractions to agitated or anxious feelings, and supporting their owner out in public. PTSD service dogs may check rooms and around corners for their owner, or they may guard their owner’s back while in public and provide comfort during the onset of nightmares or flashbacks.
How To Get an Emotional Support Animal in Indiana
It is quite easy to get an emotional support animal in Indiana. Simply contact US Service Animals to speak with one of our medical professionals. They will assess your situation to see if you and your animal qualify. If you do, you will be permitted to continue the registration process and receive your ESA letter. This letter is very important as many landlords will ask you to present it.
With US Service Animals, you can talk to a mental health professional and register your emotional support animal quickly. Simply follow the steps provided on our website. You won’t have to pay anything unless the mental health professional approves your request. Then, you will receive your ESA letter, granting you all of the rights and benefits associated with an emotional support animal!