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Wisconsin Emotional Support Animal Laws for 2022

The laws for obtaining and maintaining an emotional support animal (ESA) have slight variations depending on the state that you obtain the ESA letter. This is a guide on how to obtain an ESA letter in Wisconsin and the laws that come with handling one.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
September 7, 2022
Updated on:  
September 7, 2022

The laws for having an emotional support animal (ESA) can vary state-to-state. While emotional support animals provide emotional support to a person with a disability, they do not have the same rights as service animals or psychiatric service dogs. However, under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and an emotional support animal law, housing providers cannot refuse housing or place breed restrictions on individuals with emotional support animals, as long as they obtain an emotional support animal letter (ESA Letter)

Meanwhile, service animals can accompany their owners anywhere, including in public places such as religious organizations, restaurants, movie theaters, medical offices, parks, community centers, and more.

If you are a person with a disability and live in Wisconsin and have an emotional support animal, or are a person seeking more information on how an emotional support animal can help you with a disability-related need, read on for the 2022 emotional support animal Wisconsin state laws.

The Bottom Line

  • What is an emotional support animal?
  • An ESA is an animal that provides comfort and a therapeutic benefit for a person with a mental health disability, an emotional disability, or a psychiatric disability
  • Are emotional support animals considered pets in Wisconsin?
  • While ESAs aren't considered service animals, they aren't considered pets under U.S. laws. Because ESAs are not considered house pets under federal law, they can be any species or breed. ESAs are most commonly dogs, but cats, lizards, iguanas, and even miniature horses can be considered ESA.
  • How do I get an emotional support animal letter in Wisconsin?
  • To get an emotional support animal letter in Wisconsin, you first need to meet a licensed medical professional focused on mental health who will determine whether they qualify for an emotional support animal.
  • Do landlords in Wisconsin have to accept emotional support animals?
  • Housing providers cannot apply extra pet fees or deny an ESA if they have a no-pet policy. Under the ADA and state laws, housing providers cannot deny you a place to live due to your disability, regardless of where the housing and urban development is.

Emotional Support Animal Laws in Wisconsin

State and local governments in Wisconsin can have varying laws involving emotional support animals and service animals. Wisconsin is viewed as a pet-friendly state, and service animals and emotional support animals are cared for with reasonable accommodations being made for them. However, service animals have different rules and regulations than emotional support animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), and Wisconsin's dynamic support animal law.

Below, we will explore the different laws regarding where in Wisconsin you can take your ESA, the difference between an ESA and a service animal, as well as the rights, protections, and limitations a person with a disability may face while owning an ESA, along with the benefits emotional support animals and service animals, provide their owners.

Wisconsin ESA Housing Laws

Following the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), Wisconsin requires that all housing providers make reasonable accommodations for the tenants with valid ESA letters for their support animal. This is regardless of whether individuals live in a housing and urban development or elsewhere.

Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers cannot apply extra fees to the tenants for keeping these animals in their homes or add any weight or breed restrictions on your ESA. This is true regardless of whether the housing provider has policies or regulations on pets, as emotional support animals are not recognized as pets.

The only way housing providers could apply pet fees, under the Fair Housing Act, or ask you to get rid of the ESA is if it is a direct threat to other residents or is responsible for severe damage.

The most a housing provider can do is request to see your ESA letter that states your ESA does aid your disability.

Wisconsin ESA Laws for Employment

According to federal laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot discriminate against a person's disability during the hiring process or any time during the working shift. Employers are also not allowed to ask what your disability, disability-related need, or the task a service animal provides you is. However, employers do not have to allow emotional support animals into their place of business.

According to the emotional support animal laws, employers must make other reasonable accommodations and be willing to work with you should you need your ESA.

One of the best things you can do is make a reasonable accommodation request with your manager, supervisor, or even the Human Resources (HR) Department. This can help your employer be aware of the circumstances and possibly provide reasonable accommodation involving your disability and ESA.

You are not required to answer any question imploring about your ESAs training or the specific actions he takes to help you because your ESA is not a service dog. However, if they don't allow you to bring in your ESA, you must keep your ESA away from your workspace.

Wisconsin ESA Laws for Travel

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) is a federal law that used to allow ESA owners who were issued a legitimate ESA letter the ability to travel with their ESA. However, in addition to the letter, ESA owners would also explain to the carrier why and how their ESA supplies them with emotional support.

ESA owners would also have to inform the airline that they have a mental or emotional health problem that falls under the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). 

However, this has recently changed. This isn't the case anymore because the Air Carrier Access Act no longer classifies an ESA in the same category as it would a service animal. So, if your ESA is small enough in Wisconsin, some airlines will allow you to bring them with you as a carry-on, which you stow under your seat. However, to do this, you must pay a fee and fill out paperwork before you bring your ESA on the plane. Then, you must agree with the airline that your ESA will remain well-behaved, or they will have a right to stow it in the carrier should your ESA pose a direct threat. 

Wisconsin ESA Public Access Laws

While ESAs are often allowed in the same public spaces as service animals, you can be asked to leave the public space at any time. Because, under the ADA and Wisconsin law, owners of public accommodations and public spaces are under no obligation to allow you to bring your ESA into that space. That obligation only applies to service animals. Your ESA can only accompany you to the type of public locations where pets can accompany you. 

Even if your emotional support animal has a vest or ID card identifying them as an ESA, it does not mean public places must allow them in or on the property. Just like regular pets, the owner is liable if an ESA causes damage. Only service animals such as psychiatric service dogs can accompany their owners everywhere.

It is important to note that a service animal behaves quite differently from an ESA or a regular pet. Service animals are individually trained to perform tasks for a person's disability-related needs. These tasks can vary from person to person, and psychiatric service animals should be prepared to be well-behaved in public.

Misrepresenting your pet as a service animal means receiving a fine of up to $10,000 and possible jail time.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter

An ESA letter is the official document that proves that an owner needs an emotional support animal to provide them with companionship and support for their mental health. To receive an ESA letter in Virginia, you first need to meet a licensed medical professional focused on mental health who will determine whether they qualify for an emotional support animal. We've done an extensive research to find the best licensed mental health professionals (LMHP) in Wisconsin who you should connect with to get started and receive your ESA letter.

Complete our Assessment 

First, you'll complete a 3-minute quiz to help us match you with the right therapist for your needs. Then you will select the type of emotional support animal you will need, whether for housing or travel or a hybrid that can do both.

Consult with a Therapist

With the rise of telemedicine, verifying an ESA letter has only grown easier. After filling out the quiz and receiving authorization from our clinicians to work with you, you'll be matched with an LMHP from your state and have an over-the-phone consultation with them. You'll complete a mental health evaluation to determine if you qualify for an ESA.

Get Your Emotional Support Animal Letter 

Once our LMHP determines whether an ESA is essential to your care and wellbeing or not, they'll proceed accordingly. If they decide that an ESA is necessary for your wellbeing, they'll write a legally recognized ESA letter for you. You'll then have the option of receiving an ESA letter within 24 hours from the time of your consultation. 

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal is an animal that provides comfort and a therapeutic experience for a person dealing with a mental health disability, and emotional health disability, or a psychiatric disability. While ESAs aren't considered service animals, they aren't considered pets under U.S. laws. Because of this, ESAs aren't restricted by the type of animal. As long as it is a domesticated animal, it can be considered a candidate for becoming an emotional support animal. All that matters is that the emotional support animal isn't a danger to itself or others in public and doesn't act as a significant distraction for others in the crowd. However, ESAs are only allowed in non-pet housing and airplanes to be transported alongside the owner. You could get kicked out of a public location for bringing an ESA.

ESA' are not frequently trained and do not need to perform specific tasks to help you. The benefit of an ESA is that its presence is what will relieve any symptoms of mental health conditions that you may be experiencing. To legally have an ESA, the owner must be recognized as having "a qualifying mental health or psychiatric disability by a licensed mental health professional, which is documented by a properly formatted prescription letter."

What is a Service Animal?

A service animal is typically a dog or a miniature horse trained to perform tasks specific to helping an individual with a disability. For instance, guide dogs are service animals for those who are blind, and hearing dogs are service animals for those who are Deaf. They are trained to help their owners operate in their everyday lives. And, because of their functionality, service animals are allowed to enter many public places within the U.S through the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Service animals can also aid individuals with emotional disabilities and are individually trained to perform tasks calming the ESA owners down, such as deep pressure therapy or fetching help during attacks.

What is the Difference Between Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals?

One of the core differences is that not all ESAs are dogs. Many domesticated animals can be classified as ESA's, such as cats, rabbits, birds, minipigs, mice, ferrets, hedgehogs, and rats. And these animals don't need to be trained beyond basic instructions on how to listen to you. Meanwhile, most service animals are dogs that have been trained to mitigate a specific disability. Because of the wide variety of service dogs and specific actions each type of service dog must complete, service dogs are trained individually to ensure they can achieve their job. 

They also follow very different laws and restrictions, as do their handlers. ESAs are allowed to live in specific locations that pets wouldn't be allowed to live in due to their therapeutic benefits. Meanwhile, service animals are given fewer restrictions in the type of public locations they can enter.  

Frequently Asked Questions About Emotional Support Animals in Wisconsin

The following are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about emotional support animals regardless of the state. These questions are answered below in a manner that should prove prudent for anyone seeking an ESA, irrespective of location.

How much does an ESA letter from Pettable cost?

An ESA letter from us costs $149, but we offer individual ESA Letters for housing and travel purposes. You can get a discount if you purchase both, as our housing and travel package costs $199. We offer a risk-free guarantee that we will refund your entire payment if your ESA Letter doesn't work correctly.

Are ESA animals (s) safe?

All that matters is that the ESA isn't a danger to itself or others in public and doesn't act as a significant distraction for others in the crowd. However, ESAs are only allowed in non-pet housing and airplanes to be transported alongside the owner. You could get kicked out of a public location for bringing an ESA.

Is ESA a Trained service animal(s)?

ESA' are not frequently trained and do not need to perform specific tasks to help you. The benefit of an ESA is that its presence is what will relieve any symptoms of mental health conditions that you may be experiencing. To legally have an ESA, an LMHP must recognize the owner as having "a qualifying mental health or psychiatric disability by a licensed mental health professional, which is documented by a properly formatted prescription letter."

What is a Service Animal 

A service animal is typically a dog or a miniature horse trained to perform tasks specific to helping an individual with a disability. For instance, guide dogs are service animals for those who are blind, and hearing dogs are service animals for those who are deaf. They are trained to help their owners operate in their everyday lives. And, because of their functionality, service animals are allowed to enter many public places within the U.S through the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Does ESA follow the same laws as service dogs?

They also follow very different laws and restrictions, as do their handlers. ESAs are allowed to live in specific locations that pets wouldn't be allowed to live in due to their therapeutic benefits. Meanwhile, psychiatric service dogs are given fewer restrictions in the type of public locations they can enter.  

Can a landlord deny an emotional support animal?

Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers cannot deny a service animal or an emotional support animal. The Fair Housing Act protects owners and their assistance animals from paying pet fees related to owning an ESA in housing and urban development.

Under the Fair Housing Act, the only way the landlord can deny your ESA letter is if the animals cause significant property or housing unit damage and directly threaten other tenants' safety. Otherwise, they must accommodate your ESA and allow it to live within your space.

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.