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New Jersey Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Laws in 2024

In New Jersey, there are no state-specific regulations regarding emotional support animals. Instead, residents should be aware of federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, which dictate whether emotional support animals are allowed in housing and on airplanes.

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Kristi Carignan
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February 21, 2024
July 20, 2023
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5 minute read
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July 20, 2023
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Discover the laws surrounding emotional support animals (ESAs) in New Jersey. Get a comprehensive guide on ESAs and learn how to obtain an ESA letter to support you.

If you have a trusted emotional support animal (ESA) that brings you vast amounts of comfort and helps you to manage daily life, you have probably thought about New Jersey's emotional support animal laws. In this article, we'll examine everything you need to know about having an ESA in the state.

Emotional Support Animal Laws in New Jersey

When it comes to ESA laws in New Jersey, ESAs don't get too much recognition in terms of special public access rights. The state follows the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and only recognizes service dogs as legitimate working service animals. While ESAs offer vast amounts of love and mental health support, they are not seen as the same as service animals because they do not perform specific working tasks relating to disabilities. Let's explore what this means in terms of housing, employment, travel, and public access in the state.

New Jersey ESA Housing Laws

Happily, ESAs are recognized by the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), and this extends to the entire country, including New Jersey. This means that housing providers may not discriminate against your ESA and must make reasonable accommodations to allow them to live with you. 

An official ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional in New Jersey can be presented to landlords. As per the law, ESAs are seen as medical aids rather than pets, and as such, pet rental fees must be waived. An ESA letter is much like a medical prescription.

New Jersey ESA Laws for Employment

While ESAs are not recognized in terms of employment under the ADA, this is largely up to the individual employer. As more offices become dog-friendly, certain employers may welcome well-behaved dogs and ESAs. While presenting your official ESA letter to your employer might support your case, it is ultimately up to them to make that call.

New Jersey ESA Laws for Travel

Sadly, ESAs are not protected when it comes to flying since the Air Carrier Access Act recently changed its criteria. While ESAs were once seen as assistance animals and allowed to join their handlers on flights without special pet tariffs, this law has since changed. Only service dogs are officially recognized, and ESAs may be subjected to additional charges. Always check with the specific airline before traveling, as some might recognize ESAs.

New Jersey ESA Public Access Laws

Because New Jersey follows the ADA, ESAs are not generally permitted to enter spaces where animals are not allowed. They are, however, allowed to accompany owners to any pet-friendly space, and they are generally protected in terms of housing rights.

How to Get a Legitimate ESA Letter in New Jersey

Pettable can help you to get an official emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health practitioner in New Jersey in a few simple steps.

Complete Our Assessment

Complete a hassle-free assessment so we can check if you qualify for an ESA and determine your specific needs.

Consult with a Therapist

Attend a brief consultation with your therapist and chat with them about your emotional support animal needs.

Get Your Emotional Support Animal Letter

If you're successful, you will get your official letter within 24-48 hours of your consultation. You can then present this to your housing provider, who must, as per the Fair Housing Act, make reasonable accommodations for your ESA.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

ESAs are animals who offer their owners comfort through their presence. They are able to boost daily wellbeing and functioning and offer the owner loads of love and comfort. This can decrease the severity of a wide range of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, schizophrenia, and so much more.

ESAs can be any legal species of domestic animal. While popular ESAs include dogs and cats, other ESAs include rabbits, ferrets, pigs, goats, guinea pigs, bearded dragons, snakes, and rats.

What is a Service Animal?

Service animals or psychiatric service animals are recognized by the ADA. This federal law protects the rights of service animals and safeguards that public establishments make reasonable accommodations to include them in public life.

According to the ADA, service dogs must be required because the handler has a specific disability, and they must be individually trained to perform a function relating to it. For example, a service dog might alert a deaf owner to safety issues or help a blind owner to navigate the world or retrieve items.

According to the ADA, service dogs are allowed to join their handler in any space where the general public is permitted. This includes shops, bars, restaurants, malls, places of worship, theaters, public transport, airplanes, and educational institutions.

Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal

ESAs and service animals both provide comfort and support to handlers. However, they are defined slightly differently. ESAs provide companionship and comfort through their presence. They give their owners loyalty and unconditional love and enhance their lives by bringing love, routine, and companionship. Service animals, on the other hand, are trained to perform specific disability-related tasks. Because they can perform tasks that alleviate or support owners with disabilities, they are recognized under federal law and have many public access rights in New Jersey and beyond.

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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