While the main two laws to remember when speaking about your Emotional Support Dog are the Fair Housing Amendments Act (the FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (the ACAA) there are specific Sections in each law that are useful for owners and the public to know about. Specific sections of the laws break down the laws and guidelines for both landlords and airlines along with owners and handlers of Emotional Support Dogs. These are important pieces of information to remember while negotiating both travel and housing if you own and handle an Emotional Support Dog.
Laws Within the ACAA
In the section 14 CFR Part 382, part of the ACAA, it defines the words used in the laws outlining Emotional Support Animals. This is really important for handlers of Emotional Support Dogs when it comes to verbiage used in the airline business. If you’re able to speak with the airline on terms that they understand, you’ll have an easier time getting your point across. It is important to remember these main descriptors in the ACAA law:
- Facility: “meaning all or any portion of the aircraft, buildings structure, equipment, roads, walks, parking lots, and all real personal property used by passengers visiting the airport”
- Individual with a disability: “This means an individual with a mental or physical impairment. These disabilities either visual or not substantially limit one or more major life activities”
- Major Life activities: “functioning in the care for one’s self, performing a range of manual tasks such as walking, speaking, hearing, breathing, working, etc.”
While navigating through the airport and when discussing your Emotional Support Dogs, you can refer to these terms when speaking with both airline employees and the public.
Section USC 41705 of the ACAA
In section USC 41705 of the ACAA, it defines what discrimination against a handicapped individual may look like. In general, and in regards to providing air transportation, an air carrier may not discriminate against an otherwise qualified individual. This means that if you didn’t have the needs for an Emotional Support Dog, and you would otherwise qualify to fly, there should be no reason you cannot fly. This part of the law also mandates a report and review of the air carrier’s discrimination on the basis of disabilities, meaning there is a constant attentiveness to access in the airport and on the airlines.
This section of the law mandates that all personnel be ready to handle and make accommodations for individuals with disabilities. There is also verbiage in this section about a plan for Technical Assistance that requires the airlines to disperse manuals and information to the correct individuals responsible for adhering to these laws. The more informed you are about these laws while traveling, the better, but as stated in this section, the airline and airport should be prepared for you and your Emotional Support Dogs.
A great way to help ease the process while traveling is utilizing a vest and ID card for quickest service. A vest and ID card from an Emotional Support Animal website is recommended. These items will help tremendously when navigating through the airport.
Laws Within the FHAA
In the FHAA law, Section 1 of Chapter 32, there are similar descriptions about what the law defines in regards to the housing of your Emotional Support Animal. Specifically stating that owners and agents may not apply or enforce their “house pet” rules onto animals that “assist handicapped persons”. They even go as far as to give examples, “(e.g., guide dogs for persons with vision impairments, hearing dogs for persons with hearing impairments, and emotional support animals for persons with chronic mental illness)”.
Similar to the ACAA laws, a heavy implication that denoting the animal with proper vests and ID cards is important. Also, having proper documentation from your mental health professional, stating that it is recommended in your treatment or daily duties that you have your ESA living with you. The definitions of landlord and agent are pretty clear and because there are so many state laws involved with individual states and local ordinances, it is even more important when negotiating housing for you and your Emotional Support Animal, that you invest in an ID Card and Vest. Again a recommended site is (INSERT LINK), you’ll find that their vests are most universally recognized amongst states and counties.
Section 4350.1 REV-1 32-5
Another section of the FHAA law is section 4350.1 REV-1 32-5, where it clearly states that an owner is required to notify the renter about registering their pet. This is important to remember when speaking with your landlord about your Emotional Support Animal. Because registration for all animals living in rentals is necessary, it is even more important that if your doctor has recommended your animal as part of your therapy, that you do everything you can to protect their access to living at home with you.
As part of that same section, they describe more about the actions that can be taken against animal owners who do not have them registered. Within this same Chapter, you can find 32-21 Lease Provisions that “animals assisting handicapped persons are excluded from the requirements of pet rules”.
While there are significant benefits to owning pets in general, the difference between an Emotional Support Dog and a household pet is dramatic. It is important that if you have a recommendation from your mental health professional or your animal is an Emotional Support to you that you take the proper action in protecting them under the law!