Emotional Support Animal Louisiana: Laws & Suggestions 2023
Seeking emotional comfort from a support animal is becoming more popular. Beyond federal laws, each state, including Louisiana, has rules and benefits for those who choose to get an emotional support animal (ESA) in Louisiana. Navigating how to get an ESA with changing rules every year can be frustrating and we are here to help.
In this article, we will provide you with an overview of the federal and Louisiana laws for getting an emotional support animal. We will discuss how and if you need to register a support animal in Louisiana in addition to any penalties for misrepresentation of an animal. Lastly, we will recommend how to get an ESA and places you can go with one. Hopefully, this guide will make your journey to improved mental health easier.
Emotional Support Animal Louisiana: The Laws
- Louisiana law is similar to federal law– the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act.
- ESAs are considered assistance animals in Louisiana.
- Assistance animals are given reasonable accommodations in housing in Louisiana.
- ESAs don’t have special rights in public spaces and must follow rules for pets.
Louisiana Emotional Support Animal Laws
Americans With Disabilities Act
The federal law that provides protections and rights to individuals with animals is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It defines the protection of service animals and not assistance or emotional support animals. Only dogs may be service animals and they must be individually trained to provide help to a disabled person and perform specific tasks such as aiding a blind person when walking. The ADA guarantees access for service animals to all public areas.
The federal law with benefits for animals in living spaces is called the Fair Housing Act (FHA). It guarantees access to residences for service animals and any assistance animal or emotional support animal. There is no limit on the type of animal or the number of animals under the law. Housing management or rental landlords may ask for proof or documentation in the form of an emotional support animal letter from a licensed healthcare professional.
Louisiana state law has little to add to the federal Fair Housing Act. The Louisiana revised statutes title 46, chapter 23 sections 1951 to 1959, entitled Rights of Persons With Disabilities has the only laws regarding service animals. It has no mention of assistance animals, therefore the housing laws in Louisiana default to the federal laws.
Examples of reasonable accommodation for support animals are waiving pet fees and ignoring no-pet policies. Animal owners are required to control their animals so as not to cause excessive damage, endanger other people, and disrupt the enjoyment of the housing by occupants. It is best to tell your landlord when moving in or when first obtaining an ESA in order to guarantee your rights.
All public flights fall under the jurisdiction of the federal Air Carrier Access Act which is enforced by the Department of Transportation. Previously, service animals and assistance animals were given special accommodations in flights. However, a new rule issued in December 2020 has restricted benefits only to service dogs on commercial flights. A service dog may accompany its owner on a flight, free of charge. Assistance animals, including ESAs, must follow standard rules and restrictions applied to pets when flying.
Louisiana law does not provide special public access for support animals other than service dogs. Assistance animals, including ESAs, are required to follow the rules applied to all other pets and animals in public spaces.
Louisiana has no law forbidding misrepresentation of an animal as either a service animal or an assistance animal. However, without proper documentation, you may be denied access to special accommodations for your ESA. Other states will fine owners for misrepresentation, even when you are visiting.
Things To Know About Emotional Support Animals
- Determine if you want an assistance animal in Louisiana by reviewing the laws we have discussed– housing, public accommodations, and misrepresentation.
- Per the ADA, only dogs or small horses may be service animals. It must have specific training to help a person with a mental or physical disability perform tasks or work.
- An ESA is considered an assistance animal in Louisiana and requires a letter from a physician designating it as an assistance animal in order to gain reasonable accommodation in housing.
- Learn about how to get an ESA letter for your assistance animal.
- The ADA differentiates between service animals and ESAs. ESAs do not have special training and provide emotional support with their mere presence. If the animal is trained but is not a dog or small horse, it is considered an assistance animal.
Steps To Get An Emotional Support Animal In Louisiana
The only requirement to have an emotional support animal is obtaining an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. It is vital that this provider is familiar with your mental disability, the animal and how it helps you, and the laws pertaining to assistance animals in Louisiana.
Be wary of online websites that promote emotional support animal registration in Louisiana or quick and easy certification. Registration, certificates, or special clothing and accessories with assistance animal labels are not required.
Assistance animals, such as emotional support dogs, must relieve some of the symptoms of a mental disability through emotional support or comfort. Your disability should be consistent with a diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. For example, you may obtain a letter for an ESA for anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Seek Out A Therapist Or Doctor
The easiest way to obtain an ESA letter for comfort animals is to consult with your current mental healthcare provider. The provider must be familiar with your mental illness and the animal before writing a letter. Be certain with online websites that you will consult with a licensed healthcare professional.
Where To Adopt An ESA In Louisiana?
The Animal Rescue Foundation Of Louisiana
An assistance animal may be any type of animal in Louisiana. Animal shelters, such as the Animal Rescue Foundation of Louisiana, are excellent choices to begin your search for an animal. This organization rescues all types of animals but focuses on dogs, and works to match them with owners. We recommend coordinating with shelters to find an animal that meets the needs of your disabilities.
Acadiana Animal Aid
As a non-profit organization and no-kill shelter, Acadiana Animal Aid has many options for rescue animals in Louisiana. They specialize in rescuing animals from euthanization at other shelters and providing training and education for pets and their owners.
Places In Louisiana To Bring Your ESA
Gretna Dog Park
Also known as the Gretna Bark Park, this park is designed for all types of dogs. There are many similar parks all throughout Louisiana for you to visit with your ESA outside of the home.
Living at a university is not very different from renting a home or apartment when it comes to bringing your ESA to school. Universities such as Xavier University and Southeastern Louisiana University publish clear guidelines for bringing an emotional support animal to school. Often, they will ask many questions and ask for vet records and an ESA letter.
The FHA applies to university dormitories and protects the privacy of an ESA owner. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has provided a guideline for the process of determining if a service animal or emotional support animal qualifies for special accommodations. Many universities will ask extra questions and for extra documentation than is required such as vaccination records or specific personal health information. It is optional to provide information not required per the FHA.
After reviewing the laws and requirements for having emotional support animals it should be easier to navigate the requirements for getting one. An ESA letter is all that is required to get an emotional support animal in Louisiana. Be sure to obtain your letter from a licensed healthcare professional such as your current provider or from a legitimate website such as Certapet. Certapet and other sites have experienced professionals to help with support animals.
Bringing an ESA into your home can be life-changing. Although not all public accommodations will accept ESAs, parks and outdoor restaurants may have pet-friendly zones that you can take advantage of. Follow our recommendations and you will be well on your way to improving your life and taking control of a mental illness.
Frequently Asked Questions
All flights fall under the Air Carrier Access Act which only grants access to service dogs. All other animals must follow normal restrictions.
No, only service animals are given special accommodation in public spaces. Owners of ESAs must follow rules applied to pets when visiting restaurants, using public transit, and accessing other public spaces.
Only dogs or small horses may be considered service animals. Assistance animals may be any type or breed of animal without restrictions on size. Unusual animals, which are not normally pets, may have a more difficult time meeting requirements for ESA letters or admittance into housing.
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MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.
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