New Department of Transportation Laws

With new laws being put into place by the Department of Transportation regarding flying with Emotional Support Animals, there is no better time to go over the differences between an Emotional Support Animal and Psychiatric / PTSD Service Animal.

Emotional Support Animals provide support and companionship to help with anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues. ESAs are prescribed by a mental health professional to help ease mental illnesses. There is no specialized training required for ESAs as they are primarily for companionship, however they do need behavioral training. Emotional Support Animals are also not restricted to any one species or breed.

Psychiatric or PTSD Service Animals provide assistance to people with psychiatric disabilities, such as severe depression, some anxiety disorders, and PTSD. They perform tasks such as blocking dissociative episodes, sensing panic attacks, and preventing or disrupting destructive behaviors. Any Service Animal, including Psychiatric and PTSD, requires both behavioral and specialized training for the task that they are performing. Under the ADA, only dogs, and miniature horses in certain circumstances, are able to be defined as Service Animals although there are no restrictions on age or breed.

Now that you know what the difference between an Emotional Support Animal and a Psychiatric / PTSD Service Animal is, let’s talk about the difference between the rights that they have. Under the ADA, Service Animals are given access to any place their handler is allowed, including hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, and much more. The ADA does not grant any of these rights to ESAs. ESAs are covered by the Fair Housing Act, which states that a person with a disability may be entitled to have an Emotional Support Animal, even if pets are not typically allowed. They must be allowed reasonable accommodation, but the animal must provide assistance related to a person’s disability. Please remember, the housing company is allowed to request information for the disability related training of the Working Animal. They are not allowed to ask of Psychiatric and PTSD Service Animals such as to demonstrate their task or the extent of the disability.

As many of us have heard, there are new transportation laws coming into effect in early 2021 regarding Emotional Support Animals. This new law states that Emotional Support Animals are no longer going required to be allowed on airplanes. It will be up to the sole discretion of the airline to decide if they will allow Emotional Support Animals on their flights. When flying with a Service Animal, airlines are now requiring a form provided by the DOT that will attest to the Service Animal’s health, behavior, and training. This form needs to be submitted 48 hours in advance of the flight. The DOT is also limiting the number of Service Animals that a passenger may travel with to 2. The Service Animal also must fit in the foot space of the passenger on the aircraft.