Missouri Emotional Support Animal Laws: How To Get An ESA 2023

Reviewed by Dr. Maya Frankfurt, PhD

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missouri emotional support animal laws
Getting an ESA in Missouri isn’t hard. Photo: Shutterstock

When it comes to emotional support animals (ESAs), every state has its own set of laws. In this article, we review the Missouri emotional support animal laws. We will help you understand your rights and responsibilities as an ESA owner in Missouri, including where you can take your emotional support animal and how to obtain an ESA letter.

Read on to become well versed in navigating these laws and ensuring a fulfilling, stress free life for you and your ESA in Missouri.

Missouri Emotional Support Animal Laws

  • Missouri emotional support animal laws align largely with federal laws, providing housing and air travel protection.
  • Emotional support animals (ESAs) and service animals both offer assistance, but differ in their specific roles, rights, and training.
  • Landlords generally cannot refuse an ESA in Missouri, though exceptions exist.
  • You can travel on planes with ESAs, but you need to call ahead.
  • Stay aware of the current ESA legal developments in Missouri to ensure continued protection and privileges for you and your ESA.

Emotional Support Animal Laws In Missouri

Missouri emotional support animal laws are similar to federal laws protecting ESAs and their owners. Understanding these laws is crucial for ESA owners and those considering getting an ESA. Below are some of the essential aspects of Missouri’s ESA laws.

ESA Public Access Laws

Though an ESA provides numerous emotional and mental health benefits, an ESA does not have the same access rights as a service dog. That means emotional support animals do not have unrestricted access to places like restaurants, stores, or other businesses that are typically open to the public. However, businesses are encouraged to accommodate emotional support animals whenever possible as part of their efforts to support mental health and inclusivity. 

Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing[1] and applies in Missouri. Under this act, landlords cannot refuse to rent to someone because they have an ESA, even if they have a “no pets” policy. Landlords cannot charge a pet fee for an ESA, but the ESA owner can be held responsible for any damage the animal causes to the property.

Traveling with your ESA

As for travel, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows passengers to travel with their ESAs[2] in an aircraft cabin. However, airlines may require passengers to provide special documentation from a licensed mental health professional. The letter should confirm that the individual has an emotional or mental disability and that the ESA provides the necessary support.

The Role Of Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

missouri emotional support animal laws
ESAs provide much needed relief to their owners. Photo: Shutterstock

When it comes to emotional support animal laws, Missouri policies align with the Fair Housing Act[3] (FHA) and Air Carrier Access Act[4] (ACAA) to ensure equal rights and prevent discrimination against individuals with emotional support animals.

Emotional Support Animal Vs. Service Animal

ESAs and service dogs offer vital support to people, but they fulfill different roles.[5] Service animals, usually dogs, are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They are trained to execute tasks benefiting individuals with a physical or mental disability, from guiding the blind to calming someone with post traumatic stress disorder during anxiety attacks.

ESAs, in contrast, offer therapeutic companionship to those with mental health issues without requiring specific tasks. They don’t have all the same protections as service dogs but are protected under housing and air travel laws. Recognizing these differences helps individuals select the appropriate assistance animal for their needs.

Current Missouri ESA Legal Developments

Staying updated with the latest legal changes[6] regarding emotional support animals in Missouri is crucial. These developments directly impact ESA owners and their rights.

Recently, proposed amendments focus on public access laws, distinguishing ESAs from service animals, and curbing false ESA claims. Discussions about housing law amendments are ongoing, suggesting a need for explicit proof of an ESA’s status during housing applications.

Air travel laws have also seen significant changes, with airlines demanding stricter documentation requirements for ESAs. These include a thorough ESA letter detailing the owner’s mental or emotional disability and the ESA’s supportive role.

It’s vital for ESA owners to follow these developments to safeguard their rights and benefits.

Getting An ESA Letter In Missouri

Obtaining a legitimate emotional support animal letter in Missouri is a relatively simple process that involves the consultation and approval of a licensed mental health professional. This section provides a step-by-step guide on how to get an ESA letter, missouri edition, and secure your rights as an ESA owner.

Complete An Assessment

The first step is to complete a comprehensive assessment online or in person. This form typically asks about your emotional and mental health, the reasons you seek an ESA, and how an ESA could benefit you. Honest and detailed responses will help the reviewing therapist make an informed decision about your need for an ESA.

Speak To A Therapist

After completing the assessment, you will consult a licensed therapist. The therapist will review your responses during this consultation and discuss your emotional or mental health needs. If the therapist determines that you have a mental or emotional disability and could benefit from an ESA, they will issue you an ESA letter.

Obtain Your ESA Letter

After your consultation, if you qualify, the licensed mental health professional will write and sign an ESA letter for you. This document will assert that you have a mental or emotional disability and that your ESA is a crucial part of your treatment.

Renew Your ESA Letter

ESA letters are typically valid for one year. You must renew your ESA letter annually to continue enjoying your rights as an ESA owner. The renewal process is a reassessment of your mental and emotional health and your continued need for an ESA.

Remember, the best legitimate ESA letters come from reputable sources that work with licensed mental health professionals. A service like Certapet offers a smooth and efficient process for obtaining your ESA letter.

Can A Landlord Refuse An ESA In Missouri?

When it comes to emotional support animal laws, missouri FHA housing regulations and local ESA policies often intersect. Understanding your rights and landlords’ limitations help protect you and your ESA.

Generally, under the FHA, landlords can’t refuse or charge extra for ESAs. They also can’t tell you how many emotional support animals are allowed on the property or which breeds, as long as your documentation is in order.

Yet, exceptions exist. Landlords may refuse an ESA if it is a threat to others’ safety or property. Fair Housing Act protections exclude buildings with four or fewer units occupied by the landlord and single family homes rented without a real estate broker by owners with less than three such properties.

Places In Missouri To Bring Your Emotional Support Animal

Missouri offers a variety of destinations where you can enjoy a day out with your emotional support animal. Here are some top recommendations for pet-friendly spots catering to your and your ESA’s needs.

Places In Missouri To Bring Your Emotional Support Animal

Missouri offers a variety of destinations where you can enjoy a day out with your emotional support animal. Here are some top recommendations for pet-friendly spots catering to your and your ESA’s needs.

Table Rock State Park – Branson

This expansive state park in Branson is the perfect place for your ESA to roam and play. With walking trails and beautiful views of Table Rock Lake, it’s a nature-lover’s dream.

Grinders – Kansas City

Grinders in Kansas City welcomes ESAs on their outdoor patio. Enjoy a meal or a craft beer with your ESA by your side in this vibrant, dog-friendly eatery and live music venue.

Dogwood Park – Springfield

Located in Springfield, Dogwood Park is a dedicated off-leash dog park. Your ESA can play and socialize with other animals in a safe and secure environment.

Purina Farms – Gray Summit

Purina Farms in Gray Summit is a haven for animal lovers. This pet-centric destination allows ESAs and hosts a range of fun pet-friendly events throughout the year.

Tower Grove Park – St. Louis

St. Louis’ Tower Grove Park is a picturesque location where you can walk, play, and relax with your ESA. Its ample outdoor space and beautiful scenery make it a top choice for ESA owners.


Understanding Missouri’s emotional support animal laws can be challenging, but crucial for ensuring your rights and your ESA’s well-being. Remember, an ESA is not just a pet. ESA’s provide therapeutic benefits to individuals with mental or emotional disabilities.

The laws in Missouri offer protection for ESAs, especially in housing and travel. By getting a legitimate ESA letter, you ensure that your emotional support animal can accompany you to many public places.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a landlord deny an ESA in Missouri?

No, under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord cannot outright deny an ESA in Missouri. They can, however, request proof of your need.

What is the Missouri law for emotional support dogs?

Missouri law follows the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, which permit ESAs, including dogs, in housing, and during air travel.

Can landlords charge for an ESA in Missouri?

No, landlords cannot charge pet fees for ESAs in Missouri as they are not merely pets but are necessary for the person’s mental health.

How do I get an emotional support animal letter in Missouri?

You can get an ESA letter in Missouri from a licensed mental health professional who will assess your condition and need for an assistance animal.

When can a landlord legally reject an ESA in Missouri?

A landlord can reject an ESA in Missouri if accommodating the ESA poses an undue administrative or financial burden or if the ESA poses a direct threat to the property or safety of others.

What are dog rights in Missouri?

ESAs, including dogs, have rights under the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act. They cannot be denied housing or air travel based on their status as an ESA. Unless dogs are registered as assistance animals, they are considered pets in the eyes of the law.

Does Missouri State University allow emotional support animals?

Yes, like all educational institutions receiving federal funding, Missouri State University is required to accommodate ESAs under the Fair Housing Act.

+ 6 sources

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.

  1. https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/PA/documents/HUDAsstAnimalNC1-28-2020.pdf
  2. Service Animal Final Rule FAQs. (n.d.). Available at: https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/2020-12/Service%20Animal%20Final%20Rule%20FAQs.pdf.
  3. HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (2021). Housing Discrimination Under the Fair Housing Act. [online] Available at: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/fair_housing_act_overview.
  4. Transportation.gov. (2022). Traveling with a Disability | US Department of Transportation. [online] Available at: https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/traveling-disability#:~:text=The%20Air%20Carrier%20Access%20Act%20(ACAA)%20is%20a%20law%20that,or%20within%20the%20United%20States.
  5. Howell, T.J., Nieforth, L.O., Thomas-Pino, C., Samet, L., Agbonika, S., Cuevas-Pavincich, F., Nina Ekholm Fry, Hill, K., Jegatheesan, B., Kakinuma, M., MacNamara, M., Sanna Mattila-Rautiainen, Perry, A., Christine Yvette Tardif-Williams, Walsh, E., Winkle, M., Yamamoto, M., Yerbury, R., Rawat, V. and Alm, K. (2022). Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs. Animals, [online] 12(15), pp.1975–1975. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12151975.
  6. Mo.gov. (2023). State of Missouri Disability Portal | Service Animals. [online] Available at: https://disability.mo.gov/serviceanimals.htm.


Nia is a STEM educator, certified personal trainer, fitness instructor, and certified nurses' aid. She received her Bachelor's in Creative Writing and Music Theory from The College of Idaho in 2010 at the age of 18. She spent the next 5 years studying Biochemistry and STEM education at Boise State University. Now a mother of 2, she resides in central Idaho and owns a writing agency specializing in content and copywriting for Health, Science, & Education.


Dr. Maya Frankfurt received her Ph.D. in neuroscience and has been teaching and doing research for over 30 years. She has taught neuroscience and physiology to medical students and allied health students. Her research interests are primarily related to understanding how the brain responds to alterations in hormones, drugs, and aging. Of particular importance is the understanding of the mechanisms involved in short- and long-term memory. Although these studies are done in animals the goal is to understand the mechanisms underlying learning and memory in humans and to provide potential directions for therapy in patients with dementia. Related to this, is the attempt to understand potential sex differences and the effects of estrogen in learning and memory because women have a greater incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease than do men. The initial hormone studies led to an interest on the effects of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in plastics that has been shown to disrupt endocrine function, on both memory and brain structure. This research has been published in over 80 papers in peer referred journals.

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