Where Can Emotional Support Animals Go? Exploring ESA Access Rights and Regulations

Written by: Lindsay Giguiere



Time to read 7 min

Emotional support animals (ESAs) play a vital role in providing comfort and assistance to individuals with qualifying mental health conditions. However, it's important to understand the rights and access limitations that ESAs have in various locations. 

In this blog post, we will explore the question, "Where can emotional support animals go?" and discuss the places where ESAs are typically allowed. It's crucial to note that while ESAs have certain privileges, their rights and access differ from those of trained service animals.

Where can my ESA go?

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Residential Housing

One of the primary locations where emotional support animals are allowed is residential housing. This includes apartments, houses, and other rental properties. Even if there are no-pet policies or breed restrictions in place, individuals with ESAs are often protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Landlords and housing providers are generally required to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including allowing ESAs. However, proper documentation, such as a valid ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional, may be necessary. It's important to note that while ESAs have access to housing, they may still be subject to certain rules and regulations, such as leash laws and pet waste disposal guidelines.


Emotional support animals were once permitted on commercial flights within the United States under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), but recent changes in regulations have restricted ESA access on flights. Many airlines no longer recognize emotional support animals, or they have introduced stricter requirements. The Department of Transportation (DOT) now defines service animals as dogs that are individually trained to perform specific tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. This means that ESAs are no longer guaranteed access to flights as they were previously. However, some airlines may still allow ESAs to travel with additional documentation and adherence to their specific policies. It is crucial to check with the airline well in advance to understand their current policies and any necessary documentation before making travel arrangements.

Public Transportation

The regulations regarding ESAs on public transportation can vary depending on the specific mode of transportation and location. In general, ESAs may be allowed on certain forms of public transportation, such as trains and buses. However, it's important to research and comply with the policies of the transportation provider. Some may require advanced notification or additional documentation to allow an ESA on board. It's advisable to contact the specific transportation provider to understand their guidelines, as they may have specific requirements regarding the size and behavior of the animal.

Colleges and Universities

Many educational institutions accommodate emotional support animals in student housing. Students with ESAs are often protected by the FHA, which requires colleges and universities to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities. However, each institution may have its own policies and procedures in place. It's essential to consult with the specific college or university to understand their policies, requirements, and any necessary documentation. It's important to note that educational institutions may have additional guidelines, such as vaccination requirements and behavioral expectations, to ensure the safety and well-being of all students and staff.


Unlike service animals, emotional support animals do not have specific rights in the workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While some employers may choose to make accommodations for employees with ESAs, it is not a legal requirement. The policies regarding ESAs in the workplace can vary widely, and it's crucial to discuss your situation with your employer or human resources department to understand their policies, if any, and potential accommodations. It's important to have open and honest communication with your employer to find a solution that meets the needs of both the individual and the organization.

Other Public Spaces

When it comes to other public spaces such as restaurants, stores, and parks, emotional support animals do not have the same access rights as service animals. While some establishments may allow ESAs, it is at the discretion of the owner or manager. It's advisable to inquire with the specific establishment beforehand to understand their policies regarding emotional support animals. It's important to respect the rules and regulations of each establishment and understand that ESAs may not be welcome in all public spaces. Additionally, it's important to ensure that your ESA is well-behaved and does not disrupt or endanger others in these environments.

How can I certify my pet as an ESA?

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At Felictails we offer our Free My Paws Emotional Support Animal program to aid those looking for help from an Emotional Support Owners!

Many people who need the support of an emotional support animal need help knowing where to start - online information can be confusing. In reality, it is not all that complex. First, you need to have a qualifying mental health condition.

Secondly, your pet (typically a dog) must be well mannered to be in public venues while providing you mental support while away from your home.

Where owners often get tripped up is how to find a licensed therapist who can genuinely prescribe a mental wellness plan that would include legitimate travel and housing letters for you to use with confidence. The Free My Paws program was developed over 10 years ago just for ESA owners like you.

Our Licensed Therapists, who specialize in mental health assessments, will prescribe a personalized treatment plan that includes both a certified travel and housing letter. Additionally, we provide ongoing support to ensure that you are able to succeed in having your ESA by your side day over day.

If you want to travel and live hassle-free with an emotional support animal, we are here to help. A Therapist-Certified Letter is a document that verifies your need for an Emotional Support Animal. If one of our Certified Therapists determines you qualify for an ESA, they will prescribe a mental health program for you which will include both a Travel and Housing Therapist Certified Letter as part of your treatment plan.

This documentation is legally required to travel with your ESA or live in housing prohibiting certain animals, including dogs and cats. Without an ESA Therapist Certified Letter, you risk being denied access to these benefits and could even face legal consequences.

How does the certification process work?

Our certified therapists will work with you to understand your emotional support needs and evaluate whether an ESA would benefit you. They will prescribe a treatment plan if they determine that you need a PSA to support you in your daily activities.

This includes two personalized Licensed Therapist Prepared and Signed, one for Travel and one for Housing, that meet all legal requirements. The letters include the diagnosis and the legal language required by housing agencies and airlines.

What are the benefits of having a therapist-certified letter?

An ESA can provide valuable emotional support and companionship, improving mental health and well-being. With our Therapist Certified Letters for Travel or Housing, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you have the correct documentation to have your ESA by your side when you need them most. This means you can move around with your Emotional Support Animal without worrying about being denied access and live in housing that otherwise wouldn't allow animals.

Why choose us for your therapist-certified letter?

Our Certified Therapists have years of experience working with individuals who qualify to live and travel with an Emotional Support Animal. We're dedicated to providing personalized therapy sessions, care and attention to each and every one of our patients. We ensure you receive the right documentation that meets all legal requirements and accurately reflects your support animal needs. Plus, our easy online application process means you can get started right away and have your prescribed therapy plan in hand in no time.

Certify your ESA with confidence

Our Therapist Certified Letters for Emotional Support Animals, which includes dogs, is a must-have for anyone who wants to register and use their ESA with confidence and peace of mind. Don't risk being denied access to accommodations - secure your prescribed treatment plan today and start living your best life with your furry friend by your side.

We make certification easy!

Having a Personalized Therapy Plan and Free My Paws Therapist Certified Letters for your ESA gives you the peace of mind that your companion is recognized and your legal rights are protected. You can eliminate the stress of not knowing whether you can take your ESA with you whenever you travel, move into a new home or go about your everyday life. Our certification process involves a comprehensive therapy session to evaluate your mental state, your animal’s (typically a dog) training / temperament by a Licensed Therapist, who will then prescribe a treatment plan that will include a Free My Paws Travel and Housing Letter confirming your animal's ESA status.

This official document ensures that your pet is recognized as an Emotional Support Animal, allowing you legal access to rental housing, select flights, and other establishments.

We hold your hand all the way

During the entire Free My Paws Certification process you will be treated with the utmost care and respect. We pride ourselves on our outstanding therapy sessions and service. All our practicing therapists are licensed mental health professionals, which ensures that you’ll receive the best advice and up-to-date therapy prescriptions. In addition, our Free My Paws Therapist Confirmation Letters are promptly updated with the latest changes to meet landlord and select airline requirements.

The decision to work with us on the purchase of an ESA Program is one which will have a significant impact on your life. To make it easy we offer a comprehensive satisfaction guarantee to ensure you’re happy with your program.

Wrapping Up

Emotional support animals provide invaluable support and comfort to individuals with qualifying mental health conditions. While they have certain access rights in residential housing, on airplanes (with restrictions), public transportation (depending on the provider), and colleges/universities, their rights and access in other public spaces are not as extensive as those of service animals.

It's crucial to research and adhere to the specific regulations and policies of each location to ensure a respectful and smooth experience for both the individual and their emotional support animal. If you are unsure about the rules and regulations surrounding ESAs, consult with appropriate authorities or seek guidance from professionals familiar with ESA-related laws in your jurisdiction. By understanding and respecting the guidelines, we can create a harmonious environment that accommodates the needs of individuals with ESAs while ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved.

To learn more about your ESA's rights and how to get a certification, click HERE.