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Tennessee Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Laws in 2024

In Tennessee, there are no specific state regulations regarding emotional support animals. Instead, residents should be aware of the federal Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, which dictate the permissibility of emotional support animals in housing accommodations and on flights.

Kristi Carignan
March 18, 2024
July 18, 2023
7 minute read
Updated By
Grant Fiddes
March 15, 2024
Expert Reviewed By:
July 18, 2023
August 18, 2021
7 minute read
March 15, 2024
Discover the laws surrounding emotional support animals (ESAs) in Tennessee. Get a comprehensive guide on ESAs and learn how to obtain an ESA letter to support you.

If your animal provides companionship and comfort, you likely want to spend as much time as possible with them. If you live in Tennessee, you have probably wondered about Tennessee's emotional support animal laws. In this guide, we'll share everything you need to know about having an ESA in Tennessee.

Emotional Support Animal Laws in Tennessee

Unfortunately, Tennessee law does not make specific provisions for ESAs. In comparison, they do make accommodations for service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means that public establishments – like restaurants, shopping malls, and department stores – must allow service dogs to accompany their handlers.

Since ESAs are not recognized, they do not fall under these provisions. However, some individual restaurants and stores in Tennessee may have a pet-friendly policy. As such, it's always a good idea to call the establishment ahead of time and find out about their specific stance on animals.

Nonetheless, ESAs are recognized in Tennessee regarding housing as per federal law.

Tennessee ESA Housing Laws

All states, including Tennessee, are subject to the federal housing law known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Under this law, housing providers may not discriminate against potential tenants for their disability. Moreover, landlords must make reasonable accommodations to ensure that individuals living with disabilities can access fair and equal living opportunities. Under this law, emotional support animals are recognized.

As such, housing providers in Tennessee cannot – for the most part – deny owners with ESAs or charge pet rentals since emotional support animals are seen as medical assistance animals rather than traditional pets.

There are, however, a few situations where housing providers can prohibit ESAs. The FHA does not protect certain dwellings, including single homes that the owner rents out. Furthermore, housing providers can deny an ESA if they pose a safety threat to other residents (for example, a dog who is aggressive towards other people).

Tenants can obtain an official ESA letter from a licensed mental health practitioner – which is much like a medical prescription – and present this to their landlords. Pettable can help you with this process in a few simple steps.

Tennessee ESA Laws for Employment

The ADA makes provisions for those with disabilities to bring their service animal to their place of work, and Tennessee recognizes this law. People living with disabilities who have a service dog can thus bring them to their place of employment in Tennessee.

Unfortunately, ESAs are not given the same provisions under Tennessee law, and it will be up to the individual employer to determine whether you can bring your ESA to work. Some offices and work environments may be pet friendly and welcome your pet. If they are, ensure your ESA is well-behaved and toilet-trained to make it a better experience for everyone.

Tennessee ESA Laws for Travel

Federal law, known as The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), protects service animals and stipulates that airlines cannot discriminate against people with disabilities. Service animals must thus be allowed to fly with their handler inside the cabin at no additional charge.

Until recently, emotional support animals were also included in this law and regarded as assistance animals. Unfortunately, this stipulation was changed, and it only protects service animals.

Some airlines may, however, choose to accept ESAs and allow them to travel freely, but it is at their discretion. Some airlines will charge additional fees, so it's best to inquire with the airline to determine their individual policy. 

Tennessee ESA Public Access Laws

Since ESAs are not recognized under Tennessee law, they are only allowed in pet-friendly spaces and establishments. This differs from their stance on service dogs, who are permitted to accompany their handlers in any area that is open to the public following the ADA.

When visiting shops, restaurants, and public areas, check with the establishment before visiting if you can bring your ESA along.

How to Get a Legitimate ESA Letter in Tennessee

An ESA letter can still help you when it comes to fair housing in Tennessee, and it is certainly worth obtaining an official letter if you want to live with your beloved companion. Pettable can sort out an official letter with a licensed practitioner in Tennessee in no time.

1. Complete Our Assessment

Complete our quick and easy assessment so we can check if you are likely to qualify for an ESA.

2. Consult with a Therapist

Meet with a licensed therapist in Tennessee and attend a brief consultation to obtain your ESA letter.

3. Get Your Emotional Support Animal Letter

If successful, you will get your letter in 24-48 hours. If you are not, Pettable guarantees all your money back. It's the zero-risk solution to obtaining an ESA letter.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An ESA is a companion animal that provides comfort, loyalty, and love. Their presence has many therapeutic benefits and can help owners to mitigate mental health symptoms such as anxiety, stress, loneliness, and depression.

What is a Service Animal?

The ADA recognizes a service animal as an animal that is required because of a disability and can perform a specific function related to that disability. For example, a dog who helps its blind handler to navigate the world or a dog who reminds its owner to take their anxiety medication.

Under current law, a service animal can be a dog or, in some instances, a miniature horse. ESAs, on the other hand, can be any domestic animal. 

Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal

While both ESAs and service animals are medical aids and offer huge therapeutic support, service animals are trained to perform a specific disability-related function.

The Bottom Line

While Tennessee isn't the most pet-friendly state, ESAs are protected by the federal Fair Housing Act. An official ESA letter can help you access fair housing rights, and Pettable can help you get one quickly.

Meet the author:
Kristi Carignan

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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