Fact checked

Oklahoma Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Laws - A Complete Guide for 2022

What are the rules for emotional support animals in Oklahoma? Find out exactly where you can bring your ESA and what documentation you need to obtain for your animal.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
September 7, 2022
Updated on:  
September 7, 2022

There is plenty of scientific evidence that pets improve their owners' quality of life, help prevent loneliness, and generally contribute to their overall well-being. However, some domestic animals are even more beneficial. These animals are called Emotional Support Animals (ESAs).

Emotional support animals are service animals that help a person with a disability or a person with a disability-related need. A service animal can help an owner with emotional or mental disabilities, similar to therapy animals or comfort animals. An ESA provides a calming presence that alleviates some of the symptoms of a mental health condition.

Fortunately, federal and state governments recognize how much an emotional support animal's presence helps its owner. Some laws protect an ESA owner's right to keep their emotional support animal in their home, even in places that restrict pets. ESAs are also exempt from pet-related fees. This helps people with disabilities have equal opportunity to housing, despite their disability.

So, how do you know if your animal is an ESA? The first step is to find out if you have a diagnosable mental or emotional disability that your animal helps mitigate. A licensed mental health professional (LMHP) can evaluate you and diagnose your condition. If you meet the requirements for an emotional support animal, they will write you an ESA Letter that you can provide to your landlord that will provide reasonable accommodation for you and your service animal, exemplifying you from paying a pet deposit.

The Bottom Line

  • What is an emotional support animal? An emotional support animal offers comfort and a calming presence that helps alleviate symptoms of an emotional or mental disability.
  • Are ESAs considered pets in Oklahoma? No. Under state and federal law, an ESA is regarded as an assistance animal, not a pet.
  • How do I get an ESA Letter in Oklahoma? The easiest way to get an emotional support animal letter that meets state and federal requirements is through Pettable's online service.
  • Do landlords in Oklahoma have to accept ESAs? Yes. You have the right to keep your emotional support animal in your home unless they threaten property damage or the safety of others, such as if they posed a direct threat to someone else's safety.

Emotional Support Animal Laws in Oklahoma

Under Oklahoma law, emotional support animals are subject to state and federal laws. Here's an overview of ESA regulations for housing, travel, and access to public spaces.

Oklahoma ESA Housing Laws

The primary law that relates to emotional support animals and housing is a federal one: the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This law prohibits housing providers from discriminating against individuals based on several protected criteria, including race, religion, color, and a person's disability. 

The Fair Housing Act requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including allowing them to keep assistance animals in their residences. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development includes emotional support animals in its definition of assistance animals. Therefore, the FHA allows you to keep your ESA in your home even if your housing provider prohibits pets. Emotional support animals are also exempt from pet fees and deposits. This tenant act offers equal access to housing opportunities, despite the need for a service animal.

Most Oklahoma residences fall under FHA regulation, meaning you can request reasonable accommodation for your ESA and expect to receive it. A landlord may ask to see proof of your need for an ESA. A service animal letter is the only supporting documentation you need to provide.

Under Oklahoma law, claiming a pet is an assistance animal is illegal. A landlord can terminate the lease of a tenant who obtains reasonable accommodation for an ESA by presenting fraudulent documentation.

Oklahoma ESA Laws for Employment

While the FHA requires housing providers to accommodate emotional support animals, there isn't a similar law for employers in Oklahoma. It is up to the person/company to decide whether to allow their employees to bring ESAs to work. 

Many offices are moving toward pet-friendly, which can be helpful for ESA owners. Even though emotional support animals aren't pets, there are no existing laws that require employers to treat them as anything other than pets.

So if your office allows pets, you can bring your ESA to work. If not, you can request an accommodation from your employer, but they have no legal requirement to provide it.

If your employer allows you to bring your emotional support animal to work, ensuring your ESA is well-behaved and potty trained is essential. Employers and owners of public accommodations may remove animals (including ESAs and service animals) that are out of control, threatening to harm others, or not housebroken. You are responsible for any damage your ESA causes.

Oklahoma ESA Laws for Travel

If you are traveling to Oklahoma and are wondering whether you can bring your ESA on an airplane or keep them in your hotel room, the answer depends on your travel providers. Under Oklahoma and national laws, lodging and travel providers may set their own rules for assistance animals like emotional support animals. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires travel providers to accommodate service animals, but ESAs aren't service animals.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) governs airlines and prohibits them from discriminating against passengers with disabilities. Under the ACAA, air carriers must accommodate individuals with disabilities and allow their service animals to fly with them in the cabin for free.

The Air Carrier Access Act initially protected emotional support animals and service animals. However, that changed in 2020. The ACAA only protects service animals and doesn't require airlines to accommodate ESAs. 

So, you could bring your ESA to a pet-friendly hotel or short-term rental as long as your emotional support animal meets the lodging provider's requirements for pets. If you want to bring your ESA on an airplane, you should contact your airline to see whether it's allowed.

Oklahoma ESA Public Access Laws

Public accommodations are places that the general public can typically access:

  • Houses of worship
  • Hotels and other types of lodging
  • Stores and rental locations
  • Restaurants
  • Sports stadiums, theaters, and convention centers
  • Museums and libraries
  • Parks
  • Government buildings

In Oklahoma, owners of public accommodations must allow service animals (under the ADA). There are a couple of exceptions for places where a service dog or mini horse would disrupt the environment (such as compromising a sterile operating room in a hospital). 

However, there aren't any legal protections for emotional support animals. You may request to bring your ESA into a store or restaurant, but the establishment's owner can choose to deny your request.

It's important to understand that you are responsible for your emotional support animal everywhere, including in your home. This rule means you are responsible for keeping your animal under control and cleaning up after them. Additionally, you are responsible for any damage your ESA causes; the FHA doesn't exempt you from having to pay for damage to a housing provider's property.

How to Get a Legitimate Emotional Support Animal Letter in Oklahoma

Do you need a Letter for housing in Oklahoma? With Pettable, you can get one online in three easy steps. 

Complete Our Assessment

Start by answering our online pre-screening quiz questions to understand whether you are likely to qualify for an emotional support animal. Then, select the type of letter you need: housing, travel, or both.

Consult With a Therapist

Fill out and sign the consent forms you get in your email. Then, you'll be able to schedule a telehealth consultation with a licensed mental health professional. During this appointment, the LMHP will evaluate you to determine if you have a mental or emotional condition that qualifies for an ESA.

Get your Emotional Support Animal Letter

If you're eligible for an ESA, your therapist will tell you at the end of your consultation and write you a legitimate letter. You can choose rush service to get your letter in as little as 24 hours (excluding California residents).

We offer a total satisfaction guarantee and will refund 100% of your money if your letter doesn't work as intended.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal is an assistance animal, which isn't the same as a pet. ESAs comfort their owner with their presence in a way that mitigates the symptoms of an emotional or mental disability. Many conditions qualify for an emotional support animal, including anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), autism, eating disorders, depression, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Most emotional support animals are dogs or cats, but there isn't any restriction on what type of animal can be an ESA. Reptiles, fish, birds, rodents, or even small farm animals like goats can also be ESAs.

What is a Service Animal?

A service animal isn't a pet or an assistance animal. The description of a service animal is much narrower than that of an emotional support animal. Only dogs and miniature horses can qualify to be service animals. Additionally, service dogs (and mini horses) must be able to work or perform specific tasks to help individuals with disabilities.

A service animal's work must relate directly to its owner's disability. For example, a guide dog is a service animal. Service animals can accompany their owners in most public spaces.

Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal

Even though many people use the terms interchangeably, a service animal isn't the same as an emotional support animal. Only dogs and miniature horses can qualify as service animals, and they must actively help their owners cope with the symptoms of their disability. There are no species or breed restrictions on emotional support animals, and ESAs don't need specialized training.

ESA laws don't pertain to service animals and vice versa. The primary law that affects ESA owners is the federal Fair Housing Act, which exempts emotional support animals from housing-related pet restrictions and fees. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects service animals and requires housing providers, travel providers, employers, and owners of public accommodations to allow service animals to accompany their owners.

Frequently Asked Questions about Oklahoma ESA Laws

Understanding how state and federal laws affect you and your ESA is essential. Read on for expert answers to common questions.

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

If you plan to exercise your rights under the Fair Housing Act, you need to request an accommodation for your ESA. Landlords can request proof that an animal is an ESA, so make sure you have your Letter ready.

Can a landlord deny an emotional support animal in Oklahoma?

Generally, no. The Fair Housing Act only allows housing providers to deny ESAs that threaten the property or other residents or would change the housing environment's nature (e.g., a farm animal living in an apartment).

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

You can't seek FHA accommodation until you indicate that you have an ESA. If you want to avoid restrictions and pet fees, you must provide your landlord with your Letter for housing as soon as possible.

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

No. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from charging additional fees and deposits (that would apply to pets) for emotional support animals.

Can you have more than one ESA in Oklahoma?

Yes. However, your landlord may request documentation for each ESA. That means your service animal letter must specify your need for each emotional support animal.

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

Generally, a housing provider can't restrict an ESA based on breed or species. However, a landlord can deny an ESA accommodation request that would result in an "undue financial and administrative burden" or threaten the safety of others.

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.