Fact checked

Kentucky Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Laws in 2024

In Kentucky, there are no state-specific laws regarding emotional support animals. If you reside in the state, be aware of the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, as these federal laws dictate the accommodation of emotional support animals in housing and during air travel.

Susana Bradford
February 16, 2024
April 21, 2023
10 minute read
Updated By
Pettable Staff
February 16, 2024
Expert Reviewed By:
April 21, 2023
August 18, 2021
10 minute read
February 16, 2024
Navigate the unique laws and rights for individuals with emotional support animals in Kentucky. Understand the distinctions between private and public settings. Stay informed!

The Bottom Line

  • What is an emotional support animal? Emotional support animals sometimes called "therapy animals," help people struggling with mental illnesses like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression. These companion animals help people cope with their symptoms by providing emotional support.
  • Are ESAs considered pets in Kentucky? Yes, emotional support animals are considered pets in Kentucky laws.
  • How do I get an ESA letter in Kentucky? Pettable is an excellent resource for obtaining a legal official ESA letter. Generally speaking, getting an ESA letter in Kentucky law requires consultation with a mental health professional.
  • Do landlords in Kentucky have to accept ESAs? Yes. Fortunately, all landlords in Kentucky must admit ESA regardless of pet policy.

After seeing a mental health professional, you have finally decided to document your pet as an emotional support animal. According to Kentucky emotional support animal laws, your animal is never "official" until you have a certifiable emotional support animal (ESA) letter from a licensed medical provider. Maybe your pet helps offset panic attacks, anxiety, or depression. 

Whatever the reason, you never have to explain the diagnosis behind your emotional support pet or service animal as long as the state officially recognizes them as an emotional support animal. 

Are you living in Kentucky? Your complete guide to Kentucky ESA laws is at your fingertips. Keep reading to learn more on emotional support laws in Kentucky, how to navigate telling your housing provider about your emotional support pet, and the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal.

Emotional Support Animal Kentucky

In Kentucky, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are recognized under the Fair Housing Act, which means landlords must accommodate ESAs without charging pet fees, provided the owner has a valid letter from a licensed mental health professional. However, ESAs do not have the same public access rights as service animals, so they are not automatically allowed in places like restaurants or stores. It's important for ESA owners in Kentucky to understand these distinctions and have the proper documentation to ensure their rights are protected.

Emotional Support Animal Laws in Kentucky

Kentucky is a state with supportive emotional support animals laws. The key to their leniency lies in the word "assistance animal." Under Kentucky law, an assistance animal "means an animal that works, provides assistance, performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a disability." 

Under Kentucky laws, all landlords and public accommodations are required to allow people with service animals and emotional support animals non-discriminatory service regardless of their pet policy. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule.

Kentucky ESA Housing Laws

Under federal law, landlords in Kentucky must provide reasonable accommodation for all emotional support animals. This Fair Housing Act guarantees that a landlord can't and won't discriminate against you for having a legitimate emotional support animal.

For the most part, landlords in Kentucky are required to provide reasonable accommodation to any emotional support animal certified by a licensed mental health professional. Still, there are a few exceptions to that rule. 

According to the Fair Housing Act, if a landlord is renting out four units or less and occupies one of the units, the landlord can refuse to accommodate an emotional support animal. 

If the apartment complex that you are looking to move into falls under this category, it's essential to consider the pros and cons regarding your mental health. Remember that finding accommodation for your pet is relatively easy, but if you're set on this place, consider talking to your potential landlord and providing them with more details on how your pet is licensed. 

When looking for housing for the perfect place for you and your emotional support animal, it's essential to be completely transparent with your landlord about your needs. 

The good news is with a service like Pettable, you can have your licensed mental health provider call or provide more information (but nothing private) to your landlord free of charge. This is included in your services.

An image of the Kentucky countryside at sunset.

Kentucky ESA Laws for Employment

While the legislation in The Americans with Disabilities does not explicitly cover ESAs with an ESA letter, and most employers accept an emotional support animal in the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects against workplace discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This means service dogs and most employers also make reasonable accommodations for ESA pets. Please check in with your employer to know what to expect when bringing your ESA to the workplace.

Kentucky ESA Laws for Travel

Another essential piece of legislation to be aware of is the ACAA which protects people from discrimination when flying. The Air Carrier Access Act covers people traveling with emotional support pets. With the Air Carrier Access Act, owners are protected from bringing ESA in even if the airline has an anti-pet policy. However, most airlines have tightened restrictions, and many require airline passengers to have an ESA letter and to submit documentation at least 48 hours before traveling. 

Kentucky ESA Public Access Laws

In Kentucky, only service dogs and miniature horses have full and equal access to all public places regardless of policy. 

Public establishments are only legally required to provide service to a psychiatric service dog. Most restaurants or shared offices are pretty relaxed about bringing in emotional support animals, but they are not legally obligated to do so. 

A photo of fog hanging over the hills of Kentucky in the morning.

How to Get a Legitimate ESA Letter in Kentucky

Pettable has an easy, step-by-step guide to getting your ESA letter within 24 hours, which will allow your ESA to accompany you everywhere, and may enable it in certain public places.

1. Complete Our Assessment

The process of getting an emotional support animal is simple. Complete a free assessment here: from pettable. During this assessment, you'll help us figure out more about your situation and your emotional support animal needs for housing.

2. Consult with a Therapist

After authorizing our trained clinicians to work with you, you will be sent a link to book a live consultation. Here you'll complete a mental health evaluation from a certified mental health professional to determine if you qualify for an ESA. 

3. Get Your Emotional Support Animal Letter

After being approved for an emotional support animal by a licensed mental health professional, receive a legally recognized emotional support animal letter. Your letter is available 24 hours after your consultation, excluding some state residents. If your ESA letter is not accepted, Pettable will provide a 100% discount. 

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What is an Emotional Support Animal?

In 2022 mental illness is an important thing that needs to be discussed more. An emotional support pet accompanied by an official ESA letter is a perfect way to combat negative thoughts and emotions.

Emotional support animals are pets, while service animals are not. Emotional support animals help people struggling with a mental health disability cope with the symptoms that come with their disease in more nuanced ways. For instance, the routine that comes with having an ESA or therapy dog often helps a person feel more stable and secure. Having to feed the pet and take the pet out for walks can be great for someone's mental illness.

What is a Service Animal?

Service animals are specifically trained to carry out specific tasks. These animals are allowed in public places due to their practical use. Service animals assist their owners with practical tasks like pulling a wheelchair or being aware of blood glucose levels—guide dogs who help a visually impaired person fall under this category. So think of service animals in that way, as animals who perform a specific task. Service animals perform tasks that are more physical for their owner.

The certification process for a service animal does not include an ESA letter.

Difference Between Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals

Some pets are considered ESAs due to their therapeutic benefits. A study published in 2016 found that a person struggling with mental health experienced a greater sense of well-being with the presence of pets in their home. The presence of an animal in the house is considered a valid form of therapy if prescribed and recommended by a mental health professional. A licensed mental health professional can gauge the need for ESAs by carefully evaluating their client. 

The biggest thing to note here is that these animals provide their owner with mental health support, and they do so without much effort or training. A service animal provides more assistance than ESAs. They provide their owner with more intentional aid, such as pulling a wheelchair or guiding a visually impaired person. They provide specific support. Laws like the Fair Housing Act protect psychiatric service animals and ESAs. A service dog experiences a lot more regarding training than your emotional support pet. With a service dog, an owner is required to provide an official service dog certification, and an ESA is necessary to provide an ESA letter.

Frequently Asked Questions about Kentucky ESA Laws

With an ESA, you may have more questions about the care, the laws, and what to expect from your ESA. Read on for the frequently asked questions about ESAs.

Do I have to tell my landlord I have an ESA in Kentucky?

Be honest with your landlord about having an ESA in Kentucky. Remember, the Fair Housing Act completely protects you, so there's no reason not to be completely forthcoming about your ESA pet in Kentucky. You are protected by law against discrimination because you have a disability that requires an ESA. Remember that. 

Can a landlord deny an emotional support animal in Kentucky?

Your landlord can not refuse an ESA unless it is causing an undue burden. A clause in the Fair Housing Act gives landlords this protection. However, this usually does not apply to pets that are there to provide warmth and support. A standard assistance animal cannot be denied housing in Kentucky. 

When do I tell my landlord about my ESA in Kentucky?

As soon as you are sure about your new place. Being honest with your landlord about your ESA is essential. Remember your rights. This is genuinely a decision that can only be made on a case-by-case basis, yet for the most part, it's always good, to be honest about your ESA pet needs immediately. 

Can a landlord in Kentucky charge a fee for an emotional support animal?

Landlords in Kentucky are not allowed ever to charge an ESA fee. Extra fees are strictly what the law protects you against. These kinds of costs for an ESA should never exist. 

Can you have more than one ESA in Kentucky?

When considering whether or not to bring more than one ESA pet into your home, it's essential to know that landlords are protected from an undue burden. This is a stipulation in the Federal Housing Act. In theory, having more than one ESA in Kentucky is entirely legal. However, you should probably check with your landlord or neighbors to see if having more than one is not a significant disruption.

What restrictions can my landlord place on my emotional support animal in Kentucky?

If your emotional support animal disrupts the housing apartment where you live, then landlords are protected. If not, then landlords can not place any restrictions on your assistance animal. Your pet must be treated like any other pet on the premises without any restrictions.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.

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