Nevada Emotional Support Animal Laws

It’s a dog’s life in Nevada, and we mean that in the best way possible. The state is teeming with easily accessible dog parks and other wide-open spaces where they can zoom around, and there are even a handful of restaurants that cater to canine customers. With all of this in mind, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that Nevada is one of the best states in which to have an emotional support animal (ESA).

However, there are some laws you need to be aware of if you own or want to own an ESA. Like every other state, Nevada has special laws pertaining to ESAs that are helpful to know and understand. We’re going to provide you a deeper look into some of these laws and regulations, as the best ESA owner is an educated and informed one.

First, though, it’s necessary to define what an ESA actually is.

What Is an ESA?

By definition, an ESA is an animal that provides emotional support to an individual with emotional and/or mental issues. ESAs are not, however, interchangeable with service animals. This is because service animals are extensively trained to perform specific tasks that their owners are either physically or mentally unable to do, such as stop them from falling or prevent seizures. ESAs, on the other hand, are not trained at all, and provide their owners emotional support with their mere presence.

However, there are a couple of federal laws that protect ESAs, such as the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which states that people with ESAs cannot be discriminated against by landlords, meaning that any building restrictions or policies that apply to other pets do not apply to ESAs.

But with this federal protection comes paperwork, naturally. The owner of an ESA must furnish a valid ESA letter written by a licensed mental health professional to legally own their ESA. The ESA must also be a part of the individual’s personalized mental health plan. You do not need to register or certify your ESA. The only documentation that matters is the letter and it is all you will need to access your rights.

Psychiatric Service Dog in Nevada

There are many types of service dogs but the best option for someone with a mental health condition is a psychiatric service dog. A psychiatric service dog is a well-trained companion that helps people manage their mental health conditions.

While medications are often effective methods of treatment, sometimes having a companion can help someone get ahead of their symptoms and prevent a panic attack. Plus, simply having a psychiatric dog around may help someone better manage depression or anxiety.

Psychiatric service dogs in Nevada have laws that protect them from landlords and in public spaces. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) allows service dogs to live in rental properties without issues and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows service dogs to enter public spaces. While these laws are in place, landlords can still ask for proof that your service dog is certified. Additionally, some public spaces may limit access to service animals. Always check locations before you visit for the first time.

PTSD Service Dog in Nevada

One of the most common types of psychiatric service dogs is the post-traumatic stress (PTSD) service dog. A PTSD service dog is trained to help someone manage symptoms that come with PTSD. Their training helps these service dogs recognize when symptoms are flaring up by reading their owner’s emotions. In doing so, they can detect problems or triggers that may induce a panic attack. For example, a PTSD service dog can remove someone from a large crowd if they notice that they’re dealing with social anxiety.

Common symptoms that a PTSD service dog can help with include the following:

  • General anxiety or depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Social anxiety
  • Fainting
  • Changes in blood pressure

These are only a handful of the symptoms that a PTSD service dog can help with because the condition is unique for each person that struggles with it.

Housing Laws

As mentioned above, the FHA prevents landlords from discriminating against individuals with ESAs. However, the landlord may require the tenant to provide official documents proving the legality of their ESA and that the ESA provides the necessary and intended assistance, support, and/or services. The tenant’s mental health care provider will write a statement acknowledging the ESA’s positive mental and emotional effect on the tenant. Similarly, the FHA also protects service animals, and the paperwork provision process is nearly identical to the one for ESAs.

The FHA states that ESA or service animal owners must be allowed full and equal access to all housing facilities, and will only have to pay for any damages caused by the animal (most landlords charge tenants a pet owner’s fee). This means that any “pet-free” provisions in your lease or rental agreement will not apply to you.

Furthermore, the scope of animals allowed to assist individuals under the FHA is surprisingly broad. It states that ESAs, service dogs, and even miniature horses are allowed to live with the tenant if it provides them the equal opportunity to live a relatively normal home life. In order to legally qualify for this provision, though, you must be disabled and your ESA, service dog, or miniature horse must noticeably alleviate your condition.

So how does this figure in for college students living on campus? Fortunately, the FHA’s statutes extend to college campuses as well, meaning that college students can have their ESAs on campus with them so long as they have the proper medical paperwork to qualify.

It’s important to note that despite these protections, your ESA must still be well behaved, non-aggressive and not cause a nuisance. It must also not cause an unreasonable financial obligation on the landlord to accommodate it. In these cases, a landlord is within their rights to deny your ESA.

Travel Laws

Unfortunately, ESAs are not granted any unique travel rights. They cannot fly with you for fee in an airline cabin, though they may be allowed on as a carry-on (if they stay in their carrier), and you’ll likely be charged a fee for them.

If you’d like to train your emotional support dog to be a service dog instead, so that they can still fly with you, reach out to us to find out how.

Employment Laws

Title I of the American Disability Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against their disabled employees and requires employers to reasonably accommodate their disabled employees’ requests. Allowing a disabled person to bring their ESA or service animal is one such reasonable request.

In the case of service animals, your employer is within their rights to request documentation proving that the service animal has been fully trained and is capable of operating normally in a working environment. Moreover, this documentation may also need to address the details of your condition and how it specifically limits you. If you have this documentation, your employer must permit it.

It’s different for ESAs. In order to request an ESA as an accommodation, you’ll most likely need to write a letter to your employer outlining how your condition negatively impacts your ability to perform your job well. You’ll also need to propose the specific accommodations that would help you perform your job better, with an attached letter from your mental health provider verifying your condition and why you need on-the-job accommodations.

You don’t have to use any specific language in the letter, but it might help to include “reasonable accommodation” somewhere in the letter, since that’s the language used in the ADA regulations. Even though you can technically give a verbal request, it’s strongly suggested that you get it in writing in case you have to prove anything later on. Fortunately, many employers already have forms for these types of accommodation requests, so you won’t need to create anything yourself.

It’s important to note that there is no requirement in law for your employer to accept your request.

If your reasonable accommodation request gets denied, you may consider yourself a victim of discrimination – which is protected; if this happens, then you can legally file a discrimination charge against your employer.

However, there are some limitations surrounding the filing of these charges. First, you have to file the complaint within 300 days of the discriminatory act to be protected by the ADA. You must also file the complaint with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC) and/or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first before you file a federal lawsuit. Failing to file first with the NERC or EEOC will prevent you from being able to file a federal lawsuit.

Most employers, if they are given a valid ESA letter and situation is approached sensibly, will make accommodations for you – but they are not obligated to.

Public Accommodation Laws

Title III of the ADA and the state of Nevada says that “[p]ublic entities must modify their policies to allow the use of service animals by individuals with disabilities, unless they can demonstrate that it would result in a ‘fundamental alteration’ to their program and/or services.” The only places where a service animal isn’t allowed is in ‘protected environments,’ like operating rooms, intensive care units, holding and recovery areas, and any other sterile environments.

The same is not true for ESAs. Owners of public spaces can refuse entry. Often, however, accommodations will be made if you approach them ahead of time.

While staff members of public entities may ask you if your animal is an ESA or service animal, they may not ask to see your ESA or service animals perform its required duties. The ADA and state of Nevada also prevent employees from asking you about your condition or proof of your condition at any time.

An Overview of an ESA Letter

As we’ve touched on in the paragraphs above, an official ESA letter detailing your condition and how an ESA will help alleviate it must be written and signed by your mental health provider if you want to legally own and bring an ESA with you wherever you go. A website that offers an “on-the-spot” certification is not offering you anything which is legally useful.

The only way to ensure that you’ll be protected under federal law is to get your letter the correct and legal way. If you do get this letter and meet all the other requirements, then employers and public entities will be required to reasonably accommodate your requests.

How to Get an ESA Letter in Nevada

Here at U.S. Service Animals, we provide all the pertinent information you’ll need to successfully apply for your ESA letter in the state of Nevada. All you have to do is fill out our registration form so that you can schedule a consultation with a licensed mental health provider. They’ll examine you, ask you some questions about your condition and how an ESA would help alleviate it, and then determine if an ESA is right for you. If your examination is successful, then you’ll receive your ESA letter so that you can start reaping the benefits of having an ESA.