What Is an Emotional Support Animal?
You’ve heard the term “emotional support animal,” or ESA for short, but do you know what it actually means?
The simple definition is that these animals offer their owners comfort and emotional support (hence the name). They help their owners manage symptoms of a mental or emotional health issue (such as anxiety or ADHD).
How to Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal in Idaho
Do you have a mental or emotional health condition and believe an ESA could benefit you?
If so, the first step to qualifying for an emotional support animal in Idaho is obtaining an ESA letter from a licensed mental health practitioner (therapist, counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.).
The practitioner will evaluate you, talk to you about your symptoms, and determine if an ESA is appropriate to help you manage them.
ESA vs. Service Animals
In addition to knowing the definition of an ESA, people considering getting one must also understand the difference between an ESA vs. a service animal and an ESA vs. PSD (psychiatric service dog).
The Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people with disabilities from discrimination in stores, restaurants, workplaces, etc., defines a service animal as a dog (there are no breed or size restrictions) that is trained to execute a specific task that helps its owner manage their disability. For example, a seeing-eye dog is a service dog, and its job is to guide its owner in public spaces.
Psychiatric service dogs are also considered service dogs. They are trained to perform tasks related to their owner’s psychiatric condition. For example, they might interrupt the owner when they’re engaging in self-harming behaviors.
Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal
An emotional support animal may not have the training needed to perform specific tasks like those mentioned above, but it can still benefit those with mental health challenges.
An ESA could help you reduce feelings of anxiety and feel calmer and happier during stressful situations. Veterans and those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may find comfort from an ESA during panic attacks, too.
Many people also find that because ESAs (primarily emotional support dogs) require them to stick to a routine and go outdoors regularly, their mental health improves because they have more consistency and a greater sense of purpose in their lives.
How to Get an ESA Letter
To get an ESA letter, you’ll need to work with a licensed mental health professional. If you don’t regularly see a therapist or psychiatrist, it might be hard to find someone willing to write such a letter for you. This is where organizations like Pettable come in.
Pettable makes it easy for people like you to get affordable and legal emotional support letters in just a few steps:
- Assessment: Answer a few brief questions to determine if you could benefit from an ESA
- Payment and form completion: Submit payment for your letter and fill out some standard paperwork
- Book and complete a consultation: Meet with a licensed mental health provider (Pettable will make sure they’re licensed in Idaho, specifically)
- Receive your ESA letter: If you’re approved, you’ll get your letter within 24-48 hours
If you are not approved, Pettable will give you a full refund.
Why Is an ESA Letter Necessary in Idaho?
An ESA letter is necessary in Idaho if you want to rent an apartment with your animal (specifically, an apartment that doesn’t allow pets or that charges pet rent or other fees).
You’ll also need this document for travel and potential work accommodations (the ADA does not cover ESAs in the workplace, but some employers may be willing to let you bring your ESA into the office as long as it doesn’t cause disruptions).
Idaho Emotional Support Animal Laws
In addition to bringing an ESA with you on public transport, you can also — in many cases — fly with your ESA in the airplane cabin.
Air Carrier Access Act
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) protects people with disabilities who need to travel with a service dog. It allows them to bring their service dog on the plane and into the cabin with them so it can perform specific services if needed during the flight.
The ACAA does not automatically include ESAs. However, if you have an ESA letter to show the flight staff and inform them about your situation ahead of time, you may be permitted to board with them.
The following are some potential exceptions to the rules regarding flying with a service animal or ESA:
- Size limitations: The animal is too large or heavy to be in the cabin
- Behavior problems: The animal is loud or disruptive to the staff and other passengers
- Health or safety risk: The animal is dangerous or puts the health or safety of other passengers at risk
- Health violations: The animal is prohibited in the country where the passenger is flying
ESA Housing Laws
If you want to rent an apartment in Idaho, particularly one that doesn’t permit pets or that requires pet owners to pay pet rent or a pet deposit, you may benefit from an ESA letter. You must also ask permission from the landlord before you and your animal move in.
Idaho’s housing laws align with federal housing laws regarding assistance animals, including ESAs. These laws state that landlords and property managers must provide reasonable accommodations for assistance animals, such as waiving pet rent and allowing them to live in the apartment.
Can a Landlord Reject My ESA?
There are a few situations in which a landlord can reject an ESA without violating the law. For example, if the animal poses a threat to other tenants and puts their health or safety at risk, the landlord may decide you and your ESA can’t live there.
They may also reject your ESA if they would have to make significant changes to their property to accommodate it or if there’s a risk that the animal will cause severe damage to the property.
ESAs in Student Housing
Students at Idaho universities and colleges are allowed to have ESAs live with them in dormitories and school-owned apartments.
Students must provide an ESA letter before moving in and make arrangements with school administration to ensure they receive proper accommodations — and that their roommates don’t mind living with an animal.
ESAs are not allowed in non-pet-friendly parts of the school, such as classrooms, libraries, or dining halls.
Places to Take Your Emotional Support Animal
In Idaho, there are many ESA-friendly places you can go with your animal in tow, including the following:
- La Quinta Inn & Suites
- The Roosevelt Inn
- 10 Barrel Brewing
- Idaho Pizza Company
- City Creek Trail System
- Hobby Lobby
- Kirkwood Historic Ranch
- Land of the Yankee Fork State Park
- Mile High Marina