Why should I prescribe ESAs?
Maeve, Psychiatric Service Dog and Mental Health Advocate said it best in her Manifesto:
If the drug companies could patent pets, then animals would be the first line of treatment for every condition in the DSM. Animals interact with no drugs, can't cause metabolic syndrome or diabetes, never overwhelm kidneys or liver, are approved for pediatric use, and improve both mental and physical health -- EVEN OVER THE COURSE OF A LIFETIME OF USE. Rather than a few 6-week clinical trials, thousands of years of experience demonstrate our safety and effectiveness.
What types of animals can be ESAs?
What law gives people the right to ESAs?
The U.S. Fair Housing Act, which is effective in all 50 U.S. states and cannot be limited by local or state laws, codes, or regulations.
Do ESAs have public access rights?Not under federal law. The Americans with Disabiities Act (ADA) allows service dogs access virtually anywhere the general public is allowed, but unlike ESAs these dogs must be specially trained and must provide some service other than emotional support. See http://www.servicepoodle.com/legal-definitions-of-types-of-animals. It is possible for ESAs to fly with their owners if they are necessary to the owner on the flight or at the destination, but that right comes from a different law with different procedures.
What Should the Letter Say?
Here is a sample excerpted from page 6 of the Fair Housing Information Sheet #6 from the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Their sample letter includes an additional paragraph which you may or may not want to include. The letter I used only had the two paragraphs below. When I ran it by a lawyer at the CT Fair Housing Center she assured me the omitted paragraph was not necessary.
[Full Name of Tenant] is my patient, and has been under my care since [date]. I am intimately familiar with his/her history and with the functional limitations imposed by his/her disability. He/She meets the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.Due to mental illness, [first name] has certain limitations regarding [social interaction/coping with stress/anxiety, etc.]. In order to help alleviate these difficulties, and to enhance his/her ability to live independently and to fully use and enjoy the dwelling unit you own and/or administer, I am prescribing an emotional support animal that will assist [first name] in coping with his/her disability.
What if the landlord refuses the request for a reasonable accommodation?
I contacted my state's Fair Housing Center. Presenting my landlord with the number and name of an attorney there ended the problem. You can find your Fair Housing Center by googling "Fair Housing Center" plus your state's name. One can also file a complaint with HUD. No lawyer is required, there is no fee, and it can be done by telephone, mail, or internet. See http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/complaint-process.
call us using "call Maeve and Joanne" at http://www.servicepoodle.com/contact-us
We would LOVE to speak to your group free of charge