Can My Dog Be an Emotional Support Animal in Pennsylvania? The Easy Answers. 

Emotional Support Animal in Pennsylvania

What is an Emotional Support Animal In Pennsylvania? 

If you’re struggling with a mental illness that’s making it difficult for you to navigate your daily life, you may be prescribed an emotional support animal. A licensed health practitioner may assess your situation and determine whether an animal could help improve or stabilize your mental health. For instance, having a pet could lower your anxiety levels and enable you to focus on your daily tasks with greater ease. 

It’s important to understand that an emotional support animal in Pennsylvania (ESAs) and service animals are not the same thing and do not have the same rights. While service animals, which are dogs trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities, are allowed in all public areas, ESAs are not guaranteed access. 

The distinction between the two is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA defines service animals as dogs trained to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities, while ESAs are not considered service animals under the act. However, some states may have a broader definition of service animals that includes ESAs. 

The key difference between the two is that service animals are trained to perform tasks directly related to an individual’s disability, such as guiding someone with visual impairment or alerting someone who is hearing-impaired. ESAs, on the other hand, provide emotional comfort to their owners but do not perform specific tasks or jobs related to a disability. For example, an ESA may offer cuddles and companionship to help alleviate anxiety or depression. 

There are no specific laws that protect an Emotional Support Animal in Pennsylvania, however, there are federal protections discussed in this article that apply to residents of Pennsylvania. This legal protection is enshrined in the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA)

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Requirements for an Emotional Support Animal in Pennsylvania 

To take advantage of the protections afforded by using an emotional support animal in Pennsylvania, 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. However, it’s preferable for the letter to be on the professional letterhead of a Pennsylvania practitioner. 

Although not required by law, many owners of emotional support animals in Pennsylvania 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. 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 Pennsylvania. 

Disorders that Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal in Pennsylvania: 

  • 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) 

Do I qualify for a support dog?

Take the support dog certification quiz now and you'll gain a better understanding of the type of assistance you require and the potential benefits of having a service dog registration or an emotional support animal registration.

Housing Laws for an Emotional Support Animal in Pennsylvania  

Those in Pennsylvania 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. 

This means that emotional support animals in Pennsylvania are allowed to live with their animals, even in rental housing that doesn’t typically permit pets. While not mandated by law, landlords may ask for evidence that confirms the need for the animal. Keeping a mobile ID on hand can be a straightforward way to prepare for this situation. 

Landlords cannot charge additional fees for tenants with ESAs or refuse to rent to them because of their animals. However, tenants are responsible for any damage caused by the animal or any harm it poses to the landlord or other tenants. 

Although the Fair Housing Act covers university housing, it does not apply to dorm rooms. Students in Pennsylvania who want to have an emotional support animal close by while studying should keep this in mind and contact their institution in advance. Universities may also request evidence confirming the animal’s registration and eligibility for housing accommodations. 

It’s important to note that hotels are not covered by the Fair Housing Act. If you plan to visit Pennsylvania and stay in a hotel with your ESA, it’s highly recommended that you contact the hotel first. 

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

Employment Laws for an Emotional Support Animal in Pennsylvania 

In contrast to some other states, employers in Pennsylvania are not legally required to provide accommodations for emotional support animals as they are not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, this does not necessarily mean that ESAs are prohibited in the workplace. If an employee requests to bring their emotional support animal to work, their employer may make an exception and allow it, as many employers have done in the past. 

In recent years, an increasing number of employers have recognized the potential benefits of emotional support animals for their employees, such as decreased stress levels and increased productivity. As a result, more and more workplaces in Pennsylvania are becoming ESA-friendly. However, it is always a good idea to check with your employer’s policies and procedures before bringing your ESA to work, as some companies may have specific rules or requirements in place. 

Flying with an Emotional Support Animal in Pennsylvania  

Emotional support animals in Pennsylvania 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 an Emotional Support Animal in Pennsylvania  

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

Yes, under the Fair Housing Act, tenants are entitled to own an emotional support animal, and landlords cannot restrict them from doing so as long as the tenant can provide a legitimate letter from a medical professional. Furthermore, landlords cannot charge extra fees for this accommodation. 

Can my ESA come to work with me? 

In Pennsylvania, there is unfortunately no mandate that requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees who want to bring their emotional support animals to work. However, many employers are willing to allow ESAs for employees who legitimately require 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 Chihuahua 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