Living with a mental and emotional disorder can devour an individual's daily life, leaving them struggling just to get by. In Alabama, these individuals could be eligible for an emotional support animal (ESA) — a pet that is designated as necessary for their emotional well-being. That’s why it’s crucial to learn about the rules and regulations surrounding the rights of both Alabamians and their animals. Let’s learn all about the Alabama emotional support animal laws that can affect where you can bring your ESA.
Alabama Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Laws
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Alabama Emotional Support Animal Laws
In Alabama, emotional support animals (ESAs) are protected under federal law, specifically the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This law grants individuals with ESAs the right to housing accommodations, even if a property or airline has a 'no pets' policy. However, ESAs are not granted public access or air travel rights like service animals.
Emotional Support Animal Laws in Alabama
An emotional support animal (ESA) and its human handler are afforded certain rights thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and although they offer federal protections in certain cases, many states have their own additional regulations. Physical and psychiatric support dogs have more protections than ESAs, unfortunately. In Alabama, the ADA is the law of the land, and the state doesn’t offer ESAs any additional consideration or accommodation, but it’s still important to understand where you can bring your animal companion.
Alabama ESA Housing Laws
The strongest protection for ESAs stems from the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which governs how landlords and other housing managers can treat individuals with pets that provide emotional assistance. Though many housing communities or complexes have “no-pet policies,” the FHA prohibits discrimination against applicants and residents for having a pet that has been certified by an ESA letter for housing. That means they can’t charge you any additional pet fees and deposits or deny you based on a no-pet policy.
However, there are a few exceptions; you may be rejected or evicted if your animal poses a credible threat to other tenants or residents, causes damage to the property, or makes property workers feel unsafe.
Alabama ESA Laws for Employment
Alabamians also have rights when it comes to bringing an ESA into their workplace. Although it doesn’t allow entrance to most public accommodations, the ADA makes some exceptions for employees with ESAs. While it doesn’t completely allow these animals in workplaces, it does allow individuals to request reasonable accommodations from their managers, who can amend any no-pet policies to let ESAs join you in the office. However, since there are no guarantees for non-service animals, employers can deny the request with no legal ramifications. It can never hurt to ask!
Alabama ESA Laws for Travel
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) provides protections for individuals with certified service dogs, allowing them to travel together on most flights. But that doesn’t apply to animals that merely provide emotional support, unfortunately. There are, however, some air carriers that make exceptions for ESAs, such as JetBlue, which allows small dogs and cats under 20 pounds to travel with their owners in the cabin in an approved carrier. In most instances, ESAs are considered pets and must ride in the designated cargo area for animals.
Alabama ESA Public Access Laws
When it comes to public access, ESAs are again unprotected by federal or Alabama state laws, so they are not typically allowed in stores, restaurants, medical facilities, or other businesses. However, individual businesses — including some hotels — have their own rules for ESAs and may permit them when accompanied by an official ESA letter. As always, it’s recommended that you contact businesses ahead of time before bringing along an emotional support animal, such as a cat, ferret, snake, or any other unconventional animal.
How to Get a Legitimate ESA Letter in Alabama
Complete Our Assessment
First, complete our online ESA assessment so we can determine your eligibility. Once we have your information, we can make the best recommendations to fit your situation. You may be eligible for an ESA if you live with any of these challenges:
- Mental health disorder
- Mood disorder
- Learning disability
- Substance use disorder
- Cognitive disorder
- Motor skill disorder
Consult with a Licensed Mental Health Professional
Next, you’ll meet with one of our licensed mental health professionals (LMHPs), who can diagnose your condition and determine your eligibility for an ESA letter.
Get Your Emotional Support Animal Letter
After you’ve completed these two easy steps, you should receive access to your legitimate ESA letter within 24-48 hours. With Pettable’s money-back guarantee, you can explore the ESA process with no risk — but we’re confident you’ll be happy with the results.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An ESA is almost any type of domesticated animal that provides an individual with comfort, care, and affection that enhances their day-to-day lives and alleviates some symptoms of their mental or emotional health struggles.
What is a Service Animal?
Service animals, which are usually dogs and occasionally mini horses, are trained to perform specific tasks related to their owner’s physical or psychiatric health disorder. These can include fetching medication, providing deep pressure therapy (DPT), and responding to epileptic episodes or other emergencies.
Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal
There are some significant differences between service animals and ESAs. Service animals are typically dogs of any breed, while almost any domesticated animal can be an ESA. Also, unlike service animals, ESAs are not considered working animals, so they are not entitled to the same federal or Alabama state protections.