Mental and emotional struggles are common for most individuals in America, and that includes many pet-loving individuals living in Montana. An emotional support animal (ESA) could make a world of difference for many of these people, whether it’s in crisis or during day-to-day life. Although there are some federal regulations that can affect ESAs and their owners, some states have their own rules to adhere to or different protections. Let’s look at how Montana emotional support animal laws compare.
Montana Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Laws
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Emotional Support Animal Laws in Montana
Emotional support animals, or ESAs, are similar to service dogs in some ways, but there are some significant differences in how they are regulated. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with physical or psychiatric service dogs, it doesn’t provide the same protection for ESAs. In Montana, the ADA is the law of the land, so ESAs are not considered working animals, but there are still some other areas where ESAs might have different rights.
Montana ESA Housing Laws
Although many housing complexes or communities have no-pet policies, in Montana, landlords cannot deny a tenant and animal with an official ESA letter. Thanks to the Fair Housing Act (FHA), housing providers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, both physical and mental. The FHA protects both ESAs and service dogs, so landlords in Montana can’t charge pet fees or increase rent for both types of animals. There are some exceptions, though; if the animal is excessively aggressive or poses a threat to other residents or the property, a housing provider may deny or evict the person and their ESA.
Montana ESA Laws for Employment
In Montana, the ADA offers some protections for their employees struggling with mental health issues, including for individuals with ESAs. The law allows these individuals to request reasonable accommodations from their employees for service and support animals, which can bypass some “no-pet” office policies. However, much like with housing, if the ESA threatens the health or safety of another employee, or if it is a disruption in the office, the employer can deny or withdraw the request.
Montana ESA Laws for Travel
When it’s time to fly away from Big Sky Country, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) protects individuals with official service dogs, allowing them to accompany their humans in many cases. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer the same to animals who only provide emotional support. However, individual airlines may have their own rules regarding ESAs. JetBlue, for example, allows small dogs and cats under 20 pounds to travel with their owners in the cabin in an approved carrier. But in most cases, ESAs are treated the same as standard pets and can only travel with the cargo.
Montana ESA Public Access Laws
Another area where the ADA shows preference for service dogs is in public access accommodations. While professional dogs are allowed to accompany their owners in public spaces like restaurants, shopping centers, medical facilities, and public transportation, ESAs are not. Some Montana businesses might have their own rules as far as ESAs go, so it’s best to check ahead of time to avoid being turned away.
Montana’s New Law HB-703 for Emotional Support Animals
In 2023, Montana passed HB 703, which restated and redefined the state’s own ESA laws, adding some stipulations that set it apart from federal guidelines. The bill allows a landlord to request supporting information about a tenant’s need for a support animal, requiring a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) to identify the emotional need the animal relieves. But you must have a professional relationship with the LMHP for at least 30 days before they can issue you an ESA letter.
However, the new law also prohibits landlords from requiring information about the tenant’s diagnosis or the severity of their disorder. The new law also clarifies that a tenant is responsible for any damage to the property or injury to other tenants.
How to Get a Legitimate ESA Letter in Montana
If you want to ensure that your animal can live with you in your Montana rental home, or possibly bring it to work, you need to get a legitimate ESA letter. At Pettable, we make the entire process easy so you and your pet can become official emotional support partners.
Complete Our Assessment
To get started, complete our online ESA assessment. This lets us gauge your needs and make sure you qualify for an ESA. Some struggles that may qualify you include:
- Mental health disorder
- Mood disorder
- Learning disability
- Substance use disorder
- Cognitive disorder
- Motor skill disorder
Consult with a Licensed Mental Health Professional
Your next step is to meet with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) to evaluate your mental health and make an official diagnosis. However, due to the new HB 703, you can’t just meet a therapist and have them write your documentation right there and then — first, you must establish a relationship with your LMHP for at least 30 days. However, if you already have a licensed therapist or psychiatrist that you have been seeing for longer than a month, they can write your ESA letter immediately after consulting about your need for an assistance animal. If you choose to get your letter with Pettable you will have two consultations, one 30 days after the other, and be issued an ESA letter after the second consultation.
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 pretty sure you’ll be happy with the results.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An ESA is a domesticated animal that provides an individual with comfort, care, and affection, improving their day-to-day lives and alleviating some symptoms of their mental or emotional health struggles.
What is a Service Animal?
Service animals (typically dogs and occasionally mini horses) are trained to perform specific tasks related to their owner’s physical or psychiatric health disorder. These tasks 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
Though some service animals, like Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs), and Emotional Support Animals both assist individuals with mental disabilities with getting through their day-to-day lives, the two differ fairly significantly. The first important difference is that service animals must be trained both to be obedient in public places and to complete specific tasks that assist their handler with their disability. ESAs are not required to have any formal training and simply improve their owner's mental health simply by providing comfort and companionship. These different requirements are the result of differing legal protections in the United States. Service animals are federally protected and are allowed to accompany their handler wherever they go, whether it be a shopping mall or a domestic flight. Emotional Support Animals are only legally protected within the owner's primary place of residence, meaning landlords cannot discriminate against them based solely on their pet ownership.