Are emotional support animals allowed in public places? Can I bring my emotional support animal with me to that new restaurant that just opened up downtown? You may be asking yourself these questions if you are recent owner of an emotional support animal or are considering getting one. And because of the common confusion between emotional support animals and service dogs, it can be tough to get a straight answer.
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Yes, there is a definitive answer to this question. Unfortunately, you might not like it.
Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” Because services animals are specifically trained do a certain task for a disabled person, they are deemed to be necessary to accompany them everywhere they go. This includes public places.
Examples of animals that fit the ADA’s definition of “service animal” include:
- Guide dog (Seeing Eye Dog)
- Hearing/Signal Dog
- Psychiatric Service Dog
- SSigDog (sensory signal dogs or social signal dogs)
- Seizure Response Dogs
Conversely, the ADA states that emotional support animals do not have the training to do specific tasks for disabled individuals. Remember their sole purpose is to provide emotional support and companionship for their owners.
Because emotional support animals are not recognized as true “service” animals by the ADA, they may not be permitted to accompany the owner in public places. That being said, certain states do have their own laws that do permit emotional support animals in public places.
Furthermore, there is also the possibility of local establishments permitting owners and the emotional support animals to enter. In order to avoid being turned away, we advise that you call ahead of time and see if the establishment is willing to accommodate you.
In our experience, the best time tends to be when it is the least busy. Of course, you can always play it safe and only consider pet-friendly places so that you and your emotional support animal have the best chance of being admitted.