Animals – they love us unconditionally and they continually support us. No matter what we do, they are loyally by our side and committed to bringing joy and happiness into our lives. We often take for granted just how important our animals are to us.
We know from raising pets that we can a unique bond with our animals, but were you aware of the support that animals can offer for emotionally troubled individuals? I’m sure you know of service animals, but emotional support animals have taken quite the rising trend and with that comes the need to gain knowledge of what is allowable when it comes to our support animals.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
Emotional support animals have also been issued titles such as comfort or therapy animals because that is the type of role they play in a human’s life. The purpose of an emotional support animal is to provide a sense of emotional stability to someone who may desperately need it.
Emotional support animals are most commonly used by individuals who struggle with anxiety, depression, and mental focus but they can be beneficial to any number of emotional aspects of your life. The definition of an emotional support animal is quite broad, allowing the animal to be versatile.
There is no specific requirement for the type of animal that is designated an emotional support animal. These animals are most commonly cats or dogs, but it is not unheard of for someone to have a pig, peacock, or pony as an emotional support animal. There are many that reflect multiple types of animals for emotional support.
For an animal to be legally recognized as an emotional support animal, you must be involved with a mental health professional. This could be a counselor, psychiatrist, therapist or another mental health doctor. The mental health associate must prescribe the emotional support animal, deeming them necessary and associating why they are emotionally beneficial for you.
Kansas State Laws for Emotional Support Animals
Each state’s laws vary and each state has the capabilities of determining and enforcing its own laws. The state is required to comply with ADA federal regulations regardless of the limitations of their law, but they do not have to provide further accommodations if they do not wish to do so.
Below are some laws specific to the state of Kansas for emotional support animals:
- Kansas’s law specifically designates application to assistance dogs and includes guide dogs, hearing assistance dogs, and service dogs in their definition.
- Kansas’s law does not designate specifically for psychiatric service animals, seizure alert animals, or allergen alert animals, but Kansas must comply with the ADA regulations that do provide for these types of service animals.
- Kansas, in line with the ADA, does not require accommodation or allowance of emotional support animals in public places.
- Kansas defines public accommodations as common carriers, public transportation, hotels, lodging, restaurants, food places, resorts, amusement, or any locale to which the public is invited, leaving the definition of public places rather broad.
- Kansas’s law specifically states that dogs that provide comfort, protection, or personal defense and are not trained to mitigate an individual’s disability, do not qualify as assistance dogs in the state of Kansas.
- Kansas allows that if there is a question of whether your animal is an assistance animal, you may need to provide a letter or identification card that includes a picture and specific information about the services your animal provides.
Kansas has a broad definition when it comes to public accommodations, however, Kansas also has specific wording that excludes emotional support animals from being accommodated or protected as support animals by law.
How are Emotional Support and Service Animals Different?
As we discussed previously, emotional support animals must be designated by a mental health professional. These animals can by many different types of animals, but you cannot just tag your parrot along with you stating it’s your emotional support animal. There must be a designation from your mental health professional.
Emotional support animals are recognized as companions that offer some form of therapeutic or emotional relief to an individual. This may be specifically related to anxiety or depression, but there are any number of emotional issues that an emotional support animal could be beneficial to.
Service animals by law are either a dog or a miniature pony. For obvious reasons, a dog is the most common type of service animal. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for the individual they accompany. They are specifically trained for the needs of their human and a specific task is required for them to legitimately be a service animal.
While both types of support animals play very specific roles, there are determining factors that set which type of support animal they are. In most places, including Kansas, emotional support animals are not accommodated by the various laws in place at this time.
Support Animal Registration
Unfortunately, many have taken advantage of using a support animal as a means to get around “no pets” rules, which has made businesses and miscellaneous individuals unaccepting of emotional support animals thus far. Providing a registration for your support animal could at some time eliminate the doubt that has been placed by those who wrongfully use the system.
At USSA, we recognize the need for all types of support animals and we are here to support your rights concerning service animals and emotional support animals. We highly recommend that you register your support animal to provide a professional response to naysayers, but also to be proactive and prepared for changes that could come in the future for support animals.
Some benefits of registering your support animal with us include:
- Access to staff attorneys that actively protect your rights
- Access to staff doctors for required letters for housing and travel
- Customer service
- Lifetime registry in the official US database
- Digital and original certificates of registration and photo IDs
It is not currently required that you register your support animal, but you never know what life may throw at you. Register your support animal today and be prepared for anything!