Understanding the Benefits and Guidelines for an Emotional Support Animal in Ohio

Understanding the Benefits and Guidelines for an Emotional Support Animal in Ohio

What is an Emotional Support Animal in Ohio? 

If you find it challenging to manage your mental health condition and navigate your daily routines, a licensed healthcare professional may suggest the use of an emotional support animal (ESA). These animals can have a positive impact on your mental well-being and contribute to the improvement or stability of your condition. For instance, owning a pet can help reduce anxiety levels and enhance your ability to concentrate on daily tasks. 

It is crucial to distinguish between emotional support animals in Ohio and service animals. While service animals have the right to access all public areas, ESAs do not have the same guaranteed privileges. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as trained dogs that perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities. In contrast, ESAs are not considered service animals under this act since they do not fulfill particular jobs or tasks associated with a disability. However, it is possible that some states have a broader definition of service animals that includes ESAs. 

The primary distinction lies in the fact that service animals are trained to carry out tasks directly related to a person’s disability, such as guiding individuals with visual impairments or alerting those who are hearing-impaired. On the other hand, emotional support animals provide emotional comfort to their owners but do not perform specific tasks or duties related to a disability. For example, an ESA may offer companionship and affection to alleviate feelings of anxiety or depression. 

It is important to note that the State of Ohio does not have specific laws protecting emotional support animals. However, Ohio residents can still benefit from federal protections outlined in the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA allows individuals with disabilities to keep an ESA in their home, even if the property owner or landlord has a no-pets policy. 

Requirements for an Emotional Support Animal in Ohio 

As the name implies, emotional support animals fulfill the role of offering comfort and assistance to their handlers. It’s important not to confuse them with therapy animals, which often work with groups of people, such as in care homes. ESAs, on the other hand, are typically designated to a single handler and accompany them in social and public settings. 

The primary function of an Emotional Support Animal in Ohio is to provide continuous feelings of comfort and safety. These animals prove especially valuable for handlers who require emotional support due to a mental health condition or the aftermath of a traumatic experience. 

It is very simple process to get an Emotional Support Animal in Ohio, all you need is a letter or document from a doctor that indicates the animal is a necessary component of your treatment for a qualifying mental health condition. The contents of the letter are at the discretion of the doctor and the patient, and there is no set form that it needs to take. 

Although not required by law, many owners of emotional support animals in Ohio choose to register their animals through Service Dog Certificates to obtain a mobile ID and certification documentation compatible with either Apple Wallet or Google Wallet. This can provide owners with a quick and simple form of tangible evidence to present to landlords and business owners if needed. Landlords often ask for proof and it is important to be able to show them something. Additionally, physical markers like bandanas and collars can be useful tools for owners of emotional support animals to prevent disputes and allow members of the public to quickly identify them as registered Emotional Support Animals in Ohio. 

Disorders that may Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal in Ohio: 

  • Cognitive Disorders 
  • Phobias and/or Fears 
  • Substance Abuse Disorders 
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Gender Identity Crisis 
  • Bipolar Disorder 
  • Learning Disorders 
  • Sexual Disorders 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) 

Housing Laws for Emotional Support Animals in Ohio 

Emotional support animals in Ohio are afforded protection under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a federal law that ensures individuals with disabilities have reasonable access to housing. This protection extends to handlers who rely on emotional support animals. 

According to the FHA, property owners or housing providers must permit the presence of an emotional support animal, even if their property has a no-pet policy. To validate the need for an emotional support animal, landlords may request documentation such as a letter from a doctor or a registration ID. Keeping a mobile ID on hand can be a straightforward way to prepare for this situation. 

Landlords are prohibited from charging fees or additional expenses specifically for accommodating the emotional support animal in Ohio. However, they may request a deposit to cover any potential damages caused by the animal. In cases where the emotional support animal displays disruptive behavior, such as excessive noise, unruliness, or destruction, the landlord retains the right to issue warnings and even evict tenants with ESAs. 

Ohio residents who rely on emotional support animals are eligible for specific federal protections when it comes to seeking rental housing. According to the law, anyone with a mental or physical disability has the right to equal access to housing with their ESA. 

The only permissible questions a landlord can ask with respect to Emotional Support Animals in Ohio are: 

  • “Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability (a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities)?; and 
  • Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? (afford a person with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy the dwelling).” 

It’s essential to note that hotels are not subject to the Fair Housing Act. If you intend to visit hotel in Ohio with your ESA, it is highly recommended you reach out to your hotel first to confirm their specific policies.

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Employment Laws for Emotional Support Animals in Ohio 

Unlike some other states, employers in Ohio are not legally obligated to provide accommodations for emotional support animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, this doesn’t mean that ESAs are prohibited in the workplace. In certain cases, employers may choose to make exceptions and allow employees to bring their emotional support animals to work, as many have done in the past. 

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition among employers in Ohio of the potential advantages of having emotional support animals in the workplace. These benefits include reduced stress levels and increased productivity for employees. Consequently, more and more workplaces in Ohio are becoming welcoming to ESAs. Nevertheless, it is advisable to review your employer’s policies and procedures before bringing your ESA to work, as there may be specific rules or requirements that need to be followed. 

Flying with an Emotional Support Animal in Ohio  

Emotional support animals in Ohio do not have the same protection when it comes to traveling on commercial airlines as service animals do. In the past, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) required airlines to make reasonable accommodations for passengers with ESAs, but now it only applies to service dogs. If you wish to bring your ESA on a flight, you may be able to carry it in a pet-safe carrier as carry-on luggage and stow it under your seat, as long as it is small enough and you pay a fee. Regardless, if you intend to fly with your ESA, it is critical to contact your airline in advance to confirm their specific policies and accommodations.  

Another option is to train your emotional support animal as a service dog. These dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that alleviate the symptoms of disabilities including mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Service dogs are protected under the ACAA and can accompany their owner in the airplane cabin. However, airlines may require you to complete a form about your service animal so it is still critical to contact your airline in advance even if travelling with a service animal. These forms ask about your dog’s training and also serve as an agreement that you understand that your dog must be well-behaved or else it can be treated as a pet and placed in a carrier for a fee. Click here to voluntarily register your qualified service dog 

FAQs for Emotional Support Animals in Pennsylvania  

What if my landlord has a “no pets” policy? Can my ESA still live with me? 

As per the Fair Housing Act, tenants have the right to possess an emotional support animal, and landlords are prohibited from imposing any restrictions as long as the tenant can provide a valid letter from a medical professional. Additionally, landlords are not allowed to impose any additional fees for this accommodation. 

Can my ESA come to work with me? 

Regrettably, Ohio does not have a specific mandate that compels employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees seeking to bring their emotional support animals to the workplace. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that numerous employers are open to permitting ESAs for employees who genuinely need them. 

What Types of Animals are Eligible as ESAs? 

Although dogs are the most common type of ESA by far, any pet may qualify.  

Register your support dog online now to receive your instant Service Dog Registration, Service Dog certificate and Service Dog Certification Documents or Register your Emotional Support Animal for ESA Registration, ESA  Certification and ESA Certificate Documents