Registering an Emotional Support Animal in Texas: The Ultimate Guide

Emotional Support Animal in Texas

What is an Emotional Support Animal In Texas?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal that offers emotional support, comfort, and a sense of security to its handler, which can be helpful in reducing symptoms of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Unlike service animals, ESAs are not trained to perform specific tasks related to a person’s disability. Rather, their presence and companionship can provide therapeutic benefits to their owner.

An emotional support animal in Texas does not specific training like service animals, which are trained to perform specific tasks to aid with their handers’ disabilities. Owners of an emotional support animal in Texas are entitled to certain legal protections under federal law. If you live in Texas and rely on the companionship of an emotional support animal, it is important to research the applicable laws before seeking accommodations for housing or travel.

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

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Requirements for an Emotional Support Animal in Texas

In order to utilize the protections offered by the use of an emotional support animal in Texas, the only requirement is a letter or document from a doctor indicating that the animal is a necessary part of the individual’s treatment for a qualifying mental health condition. The specific information that should be included in the letter is up to the discretion of the doctor and the patient and there is no prescribed form but the letter should ideally be from a Texas practitioner on their professional letterhead. Although not required by law, many handlers choose to voluntarily register their emotional support animals in Texas through Service Dog Certificates in order to receive a mobile ID and certification documentation. This give handlers a quick and easy form of tangible evidence to provide to third parties such as landlords and business owners where required. Physical markers such as bandanas and collars are also useful tools for emotional support animal owners to avoid disputes and allows for members of the public to quickly identify animals as registered Emotional Support Animals in Texas.

Housing Laws for Emotional Support Animals in Texas

Individuals who require the use of an emotional support animal in Texas are eligible for specific federal protections when seeking rental housing. According to the law, any person with a mental or physical disability is entitled to equal access to housing with their ESA.

As per this legislation, Texans with emotional support animals may reside with their animals, even in rental housing that specifically doesn’t allow pets. Though not mandated by law, landlords may request evidence confirming the need for the animal. Having a mobile ID ready to present is one of the easiest ways to be prepared for this situation.

Landlords are prohibited from charging additional fees for tenants with ESAs and refusing to rent to tenants due to their animals. However, tenants are financially accountable for any damage caused to the property or any threats posed by the ESA to the landlord or other tenants.

While the Fair Housing Act covers university campus housing, it does not include dorm rooms. Students who desire to have an emotional support animal in Texas nearby while studying should be mindful of this and ensure they contact their particular institutions in advance. Universities may also ask for evidence to confirm the animal’s registration and eligibility for housing accommodation.

It’s essential to note that hotels are not subject to the Fair Housing Act. If you intend to visit Texas and lodge in a hotel with your ESA, it is highly recommended you reach out to your hotel first.

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Employment Laws for Emotional Support Animals in Texas

Unlike other states like California, Employers are not legally obligated to accommodate the use of an emotional support animal in Texas as they are not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, this does not necessarily mean that emotional support animals are banned from the workplace. If you make a request to have your emotional support animal accompany you to work, your employer may make an exception, as is commonly done. Recently, more and more employers are recognizing the positive impact that emotional support animals can have on their employees, leading to an increase in the number of workplaces that allow them.

Flying with an Emotional Support Animal in Texas

Emotional support animals in Texas 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 Texas

What if my landlord has a “no pets” policy? Can mu 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 Emotional Support Animal in Texas Come to Work With Me?

In Texas, 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 and cats are the most common type of ESA by far, any pet may technically qualify.

What is the Difference Between ESAs and Service Animals.

Although the terms may seem interchangeable, it is essential to understand that each type of animal has a distinct meaning and varying legal protections which handlers must familiarize themselves with.

A service animal undergoes training to aid their owner with a disability in their daily routines. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals in Texas are allowed inside businesses that don’t typically permit pets.

An emotional support animal is legally defined as an animal that provides therapeutic benefits through companionship alone. Owners in Texas who require an ESA are entitled to statutory protection when seeking housing and living accommodations.

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