Under the United States Federal law, those who have disabilities are protected and cannot be discriminated against. Those who have assistant animals to help them with any disability have rights.
These rights vary based on what the purpose of an animal is. For an emotional support animal, specific laws help protect you and your animal when you are finding housing and for flights.
In 2013, the New Mexico Service Animal Act states that ESAs are not service animals. In New Mexico, dogs that are trained to perform specific tasks for an individual qualify as a service animal.
Those who have disabilities and need service animals are allowed to take their animal into many public places without there being a problem. Emotional support animals are generally not allowed in public places unless they are pet-friendly places.
Assistance Animal Definition
Many people use assistance animal generally. However, there are a few differences in the type of assistance an animal will provide. The type of assistance provided affects the protection and your rights under both state and federal laws.
- Emotional Support Animals – These are Service Animals
- The main purpose of this animal is to provide emotional support. They are to be a companion to the handler. There are many conditions and disabilities where a pet benefits its handler. An emotional support animal is prescribed to those who have depression, or PTSD, anxiety, and many other life-altering mental illnesses. Keep in mind that emotional support animals need no special training.
- Service Animals- Are Assistance Animals
- This animal is trained to help people perform tasks that limit the handler to do so because of their disability. Service animals or dogs are going to receive special training to be able to recognize the owner’s specifications. Psychiatric service animals are going to receive training to alert their owner that they are not well. A service dog’s purpose is to help the owner be able to be comfortable and safe in an environment and help them with daily activities. These animals are not just companions.
- Therapy Animals – NOT Assistance Animals
- This animal is there to provide companionship and comfort. They do not have a specific owner and do not have special training. These animals are often used with people in a setting with more than one person. This includes retirement homes, daycares, and hospice. Therapy cats and dogs are often in these areas to help cheer people up.
Employment Laws In New Mexico
Your employer is not legally going to have to allow their employee to have an emotional support animal with them at work. However, with this being said, it does not hurt to ask. Under the ADA, employers are required to be fair with all employees without any discrimination.
An employer is going to want their employees happy and this is when they will often be more flexible with their working environments. If your employer allows you to have your emotional support animal at your workplace, keep in mind that they do not have to. However, service animals cannot be denied in the workplace.
New Mexico’s Fair Housing Act
Under this act, a landlord is unable to discriminate against those who have either mental or physical disabilities or even impairments. If you want to have your emotional support animal live with you in a rented area, the landlord must accommodate this animal. Under this act, in New Mexico, an emotional support animal is an assistive animal. Even if pets are generally restricted, your landlord must make accommodations that are reasonable for those who have ESAs. This means that
- Accommodations are not able to be denied to a person based on them having an ESA.
- Deposits and fees are not able to be charged to a tenant for an ESA. However, if the animal damages properties you can be charged for the damage.
- A landlord can ask for verification that a tenant qualifies for their ESA.
If you have an emotional support animal, be sure that you inform your landlord because many landlords and property owners are not familiar with the term or laws.
With that being said, landlords should become familiar with the term because ESAs are recognized by health professionals.
New Mexico Campus ESAs
The Fair Housing Act generally applies to most university dorms. However, there may be more steps that need to be taken in order to have your emotional support animal live with you on campus. Call the campus to ensure you are taking all measures to help you bring your ESA with you.
Exceptions to Rules for ESAs in New Mexico
There are a few exceptions to some of the rules that we have discussed. Some exceptions include
- If the provider in which you are being housed by can prove that your emotional support animal is putting others or the property at risk, they can refuse that emotional support animal.
- If your ESA causes damage to property in public or someone else’s, you are responsible for the damage.
Punishments for an Assistance Animal that is Misrepresented
When you have an assistance animal you should always refer to them using the correct terminology. The two most common misrepresentations are
- Referring to an existing animal/pet as their emotional support animal for travel purposes or accommodation. You cannot do this unless you have an emotional support animal letter that confirms that you can to have this ESA.
- Referring to an ESA as a service animal to get them access to public places, travel, or housing. You are not able to state that your emotional support animal is a service animal to get them into public places.
In New Mexico, their definitions are quite specific for both emotional support animals and service animals. A person can be prosecuted for misrepresenting their animal.
Facts to Know Before Receiving an ESA
- People who have emotional or psychological conditions can greatly benefit from an ESA.
- Emotional support animals can be all different types. It is just defined as an animal that will provide someone with emotional comfort.
- An emotional support animal letter may only be completed by a health professional with a license.
- If you have an emotional support animal, there are laws that protect a person from discrimination.
- These animals are not service animals. They cannot go into public places unless that place is pet-friendly.
If you believe that you qualify or if you have a letter for an ESA, go to the USSA website to begin registration. It helps keep the process going smoothly and helps speed it up a little.