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Iowa Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Laws in 2024

In Iowa, emotional support animal laws you need to know about include the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). These two federal laws govern over whether ESAs are allowed in housing or on airplanes across the United States. While some states have specific ESA laws, Iowa does not.

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Kristi Carignan
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February 21, 2024
July 19, 2023
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6 minute read
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July 19, 2023
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Discover the laws surrounding emotional support animals (ESAs) in Iowa. Get a comprehensive guide on ESAs and learn how to obtain an ESA letter to support you.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) offer their humans a huge amount of companionship and love. For this reason, it's no wonder why people want to live with their ESAs and include them in day-to-day life. If you live in Iowa – the so-called Hawkeye state – you have probably wondered about Iowa's emotional support animal laws.

In this guide, we'll discuss everything that you need to know about having an ESA in Iowa.

Emotional Support Animal Laws in Iowa

Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Iowa's Disability Rights Law, service animals are protected and have the right to accompany their handlers in any space where the general public is permitted. This includes restaurants, bars, shopping malls, public transport, and any public establishment.

According to the ADA, service animals can only be dogs or miniature horses. These service animals must be trained to perform a specific task related to the handler's disability.

Unfortunately, under the ADA and Iowa's disability law specifically, emotional support animals do not have the same protections when it comes to accessing public spaces. Only service animals who are trained to form a specific function are allowed in areas where conventional pets aren't allowed. That means that ESAs, despite their therapeutic benefits, are generally not permitted in spaces that don't allow pets.

They are, however, protected when it comes to housing in Iowa as per federal law.

Iowa ESA Housing Laws

The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects owners with emotional support animals by stipulating that housing providers must make reasonable accommodations for those with ESAs so that they can access fair and equal housing opportunities.

Prospective or existing tenants with ESAs can submit an official ESA letter to the landlord to show that their emotional support animal is required to support them through a mental health disability. This letter must be written by a licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP) in the person's state. If you live in Iowa, your therapist must be licensed to practice there.

An official ESA letter can waive pet rental fees and reduce additional costs associated with a traditional pet. This is because ESAs are seen as medical aids rather than pets.

Iowa ESA Laws for Employment

Employment is also covered by the ADA, which only recognizes service dogs in terms of public access and employment rights. As such, ESAs are not protected when it comes to employment. Nevertheless, you may be able to show your employer your ESA letter, and they may decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on the place of work. It is, however, up to their discretion as they are not legally obliged to allow an ESA at work.

Iowa ESA Laws for Travel

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) did make provisions for emotional support animals until 2020. Unfortunately, this law has since been changed, and now only service dogs, as recognized by the ADA, are allowed to join handlers on flights at no extra charge. 

Some airlines, however, may still allow ESAs to fly with their owners without charging an additional fee. This is up to the discretion of the specific airline, and it's always best to check out their unique policy before booking a flight.

Iowa ESA Public Access Laws

As per the ADA, only service dogs have explicit access rights in terms of public access laws. Still, some private establishments may have a pet-friendly policy and welcome you and your ESA. It's best to phone ahead before visiting establishments to avoid disappointment. If you're unable to bring your ESA along with you, consider hiring a pet sitter to keep them company whilst you're out.

How to Get a Legitimate ESA Letter in Iowa

Happily, we can sort out your ESA letter in Iowa in a jiffy when you follow our quick and easy steps.

Complete Our Assessment

Take a quick quiz so that we can check if you qualify for an ESA and determine your needs.

Consult with a Therapist

Connect with a licensed practitioner in Iowa and attend a brief consultation. 

Get Your Emotional Support Animal Letter

Get your official ESA letter within 24-48 hours and present it to your landlord. If, for some or other reason, you are not successful in obtaining an ESA letter, Pettable guarantees 100% money back.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An ESA is any domestic creature that brings its owner comfort and companionship. Their presence offers a myriad of therapeutic benefits and can help owners to combat loneliness, reduce anxiety, ease depression, and boost health and wellbeing. ESAs can be any legal animal species, including dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, pigs, goats, snakes, lizards, rats, and guinea pigs.

What is a Service Animal?

A service animal differs slightly from an ESA in that it is individually trained to perform a specific task related to its handler's disability. Service animals are used for a wide range of disabilities, including physical, physiatric, sensory, and intellectual. Functions might include:

  • Hearing dogs who alert a deaf owner to important sounds. 
  • A seizure dog that alerts its handler to an oncoming seizure or aids them while they are having one. 
  • Psychiatric dogs who remind handlers to take their medication or disrupt self-harming activities. 
  • Guide dogs who help blind owners to navigate the world.

Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal

While both ESAs and service animals are medical aids and offer a great deal of support, they differ slightly. ESAs provide comfort and medical benefit through their presence, whereas service dogs perform a specific function that directly supports the particular disability.

The Takeaway

Iowa may not be the most friendly state in terms of protecting ESAs, but an official ESA letter can guarantee better housing protection. Chat with the team at Pettable, and we'll happily connect you with a therapist in Iowa.

Meet the author:
Kristi Carignan
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Kristi Carignan is a seasoned freelance writer with over 20 years of experience crafting copy for global agencies and brands. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her furry companions, Sugar the PomChi and Rudy the Shiba Inu, and indulging in hobbies like crafting and home renovation.

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