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How to Get Your Emotional Support Animal in Iowa Certified


Both state laws in Iowa and federal laws protect the use of Emotional Support Animals, but not everyone fully embraces them. For many Iowans, having a furry friend provides an invaluable source of emotional support that is necessary to overcome life’s myriad challenges. However, it is important to note that bringing an uncertified animal onto a rental property can result in eviction, fees, and penalties.

Landlords must follow state and federal laws when it comes to support animals. Refusal to do so can result in legal repercussions and financial penalties. While an Emotional Support Animal in Iowa does not have the same rights a a Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA) they are protected against discrimination by the federal Fair Housing Act. 

At American Service Pets, we help provide those with an Emotional Support Animal in Iowa the necessary paperwork that allows them to rent a home, travel, and enjoy public access with their support animals. Say goodbye to worries about pet deposits and additional charges, and find out if you qualify to certify your Emotional Support Animal by taking this simple quiz.

The Benefits of Emotional Support Animals for Humans

State and federal governments have both endorsed Emotional Support Animals for those struggling with psychological trauma. ESAs can be any number of animal that bring comfort and support, including birds, reptiles, or amphibians. Psychiatric Service Animals, on the other hand, are usually dogs because they are easily trained.

People with Emotional Support Animals depend on these furry companions to help them function in everyday life. These animals provide numerous physical and psychological benefits to their owners, such as:

Mood Booster

You receive a natural emotional boost from dopamine and serotonin whenever you care for an animal you love. Additionally, a pet can serve as a welcome distraction from negative thought chains of people struggling with depression, as animals make us smile and feel less lonely.

Homeopathic Remedy

More and more often, Americans are searching for non-medicinal ways to keep themselves healthy. Certified Emotional Support Animals serve as a natural, drug-free treatment for conditions like anxiety, stress. and depression.  Caring for a pet also promotes outdoor activity, which can help naturally combat symptoms of psychological struggles as well.

A Source of Comfort

Financial matters, relationships, and health concerns can be a potentially overwhelming source of stress in our personal lives. Simply playing with your furry friend can reduce heart rate, blood pressure, and stress.

People across the country rely on their Emotional Support Animals. American Service Pets offers you the ability to secure the certification for your Emotional Support Animal in Iowa. Find out if you’re in the 95% of applicants who qualify in just a few minutes.

Laws Related to Your Emotional Support Animal in Iowa

Emotional Support Animals serve as friends and traveling companions for their owners. However, they are not trained to perform the life-saving tasks or assist disabled people in the same way Psychiatric Service Animals can. Because of this, ESAs and PSAs are granted similar but slightly different rights by state and federal governments.

Certified ESAs are granted some protections under the law, but there are no rights that exist for uncertified animals in Iowa. An official ESA letter for housing or a PSA letter for travel must  include approval of a licensed doctor. Typically these letters can be used all over the country, but keep in mind that different states may have different rules and regulations. As a result, it’s a good idea to check prior to any travel. Here are some laws pertaining to Emotional Support Animals in Iowa:

Housing Laws

Landlords are prohibited from turning down anyone simply for having an Emotional Support Animal in Iowa. This policy is applicable in apartments, houses, public housing units, and condos. Landlords may not apply “pet rent” or additional charges, and they must allow ESAs unless the animals can cause a bona fide “undue financial burden.”

The meaning of undue financial burden can vary in Iowa, but it can include:

  • Property damage
  • Threat to any other tenants
  • Homeowner allergies

If you have requested to live with your ESA as a reasonable accommodation, landlords have the right to request your ESA paperwork. Renters who do not have a valid ESA letter or present fraudulent documents are subject to prosecution. Per Iowa law, misrepresentation of an animal is a misdemeanor. Penalties for this offense include up to 30 days in jail and a fine.


Public Access

Emotional Support Animals do not have the same public access rights as Psychiatric Service Animals under state or federal law. At the end of the day, the venue owner has the final decision when it comes to ESAs. There are many parks and public accommodations out there that may still permit animals. However, if you are unsure, you should call ahead to see if you can bring your ESA before leaving your house.

Workplace Laws

Iowa employers are under no legal obligation to permit Emotional Support Animals in their facilities. Presenting a valid ESA letter could sway a lenient employer to allow the animal. In order to make a better case for the animal in the workplace, you should ensure your ESA is well-behaved and housebroken.


Travel Laws

Emotional Support Animals are no longer allowed in the cabin during air travel. Public transportation services such as buses, trains, and railways are under no legal obligation to board ESAs. Some rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft have less stringent policies, but you have to check ahead of time. 

American Service Pets is proud to provide a simple three-step process to ESA letters in Iowa for owners needing the support of their pets.

The Basics

Does the state have its own laws in addition to federal legislature?

Yes, in addition to following the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Iowa has its own laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities and their use of service animals.

Definition of a "Service Animal"

Iowa defers to the federal ADA definition of a service animal, which is an animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

What is considered a disability in the state?

Iowa considers any physical or mental condition that has a substantial affect on a person to be a disability. A positive HIV or AIDS diagnosis or any condition related to the immunodeficiency diagnosis is also considered a disability within the state.

What animals qualify as a service animal?

Iowa defers to federal law and classfies both dogs and miniature horses as qualified service animals.

Are there penalties for falsly claiming or implying (such as with a service animal harness), that one's animal is a service animal?

Yes. Per Iowa law, “A person who intentionally misrepresents an animal as a service animal or a service-animal-in-training is, upon conviction, guilty of a simple misdemeanor.” Penalties can include up to 30 days in jail and a fine.

Do state laws provide coverage for service animals in training?

Yes, state laws protect service animals-in-training. People accompanied by a service animal-in-training (provided that the animal is under control) are granted the same rights as those with fully trained service animals.

Do state laws provide coverage for Emotional Support Animals?

No, neither state nor federal laws cover emotional support animals, as they are not trained in the same manner that service animals are.

Public Accommodations & Travel with a Service Animal

What counts as a "public accommodation" in the state? Ie. Where are service dogs allowed?

Iowa’s definition of public accommodations is very broad. It includes all common carriers and forms of public transportation; hotels and lodging places; restaurants, bars, and other places to eat or drink; all places of public accommodation, amusement, or resort, from stores and businesses to parks, zoos, and golf courses, swimming pools, and all other places to which the public is invited. The ADA definition is similarly broad.

Can a public establishment question a service animal?

Public establishments may only ask two questions: Is the animal required because of a disability? and What work or task has the animal been trained to perform. Staff may not ask for more details on a person’s disability or require any kind of documentation or proof of task training.

Are there any exceptions to public accommodations allowances?

A service animal may be denied or removed from an establishment if it is out of control, not housebroken, or causing a threat to the health and safety of other patrons. However, the handler is still allowed to enter the premises without the animal if it has been removed.

What are the rules regarding service animals on public transportation?

Iowa law covers the use of service animals on all forms of public transportation, including buses, trains, boats, and motor vehicles.

Are there any special measures you must take to have a service animal assisting you in public?

Under the ADA, service animals must be in control of their handler via harness, leash, or tether, unless this would interfere with the animal’s safe and effective performance. In this case the handler must maintain control through vocal commands or signals.

Are there laws about service animals in the workplace?

Individuals with disabilities have the right to request the use of their service animal as a reasonable accommodation in the workplace. Employers must allow for this reasonable accommodation, provided it doesn’t place undue hardship on the business or otherwise alter the services offered.

Are service animals allowed access to healthcare facilities?

Service animals are generally allowed in areas of healthcare facilities that the general public is permitted, such as patient rooms or waiting areas. However, they may be barred from sterile environments, such as operating rooms or burn units.

Are there penalties for public places that refuse service animals?

Yes. According to Iowa law, any person or business that interferes with a service dog or the rights of its handler is guilty of a simple misdemeanor.

Iowa follows the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which defines a service animal as a dog (regardless of breed or size) trained to do work or perform tasks to assist a qualified individual with a diability, and may include psychiatric service dogs. Minature horses are excluded in this definition.

How do airlines determine what qualifies as a service animal?

Airlines can require a passenger to provide a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) form attesting to the animal’s health, behavior, and training and a U.S. DOT form attesting that the animal can either not relieve itself or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner (if the animal will be on a flight that is 8 or more hours).

Are service animals in-training covered by this law?

The ACAA does not address service animals in-training, so airlines are not required to carry them as they do not meet the requirements of an ACAA-defined service animal. However, airlines can make their own individual policies.

Housing Law

What are the state's laws regarding housing and service animals?

Iowa law and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) protect residents against discrimination when it comes to housing. As such, you may make a request to your landlord or property owner to have your service animal living with you free of additional charge.

Am I liable for damage caused by my service animal?

Yes — while a landlord cannot charge an additional pet fee or security deposit, you may be liable for any damage your animal causes.

Do housing laws extend to ESAs?

Iowa law and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) protect both service animal and emotional support animals in housing. You must have a disability and a disability-related need for the animal to qualify, but you are able to request a reasonable accommodation for a service animal or ESA.

Discrimination Complaints

How can I file a complaint for not being allowed in a public accommodation with my service dog?

If you have been discriminated against in a public accommodation, you should file a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC). You can do this online, via mail, email, fax, or hand delivery. You can also call the ICRC at 515-281-4121 for additional assistance.

How can I file a complaint for not being allowed to have my service dog in housing (or for being forced to pay a fee to a landlord)?

If you have been discriminated against when it comes to housing, you should contact the Iowa Civil Rights Commission by calling 515-281-4121 or 800-457-4416, emailing, or visiting The complaint must be filed within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory practice. You may also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) within one year or in private court within two years.

How to Get Certified for an Emotional Support Animal in Iowa

American Service Pets provides you with a fast, simple process to certification for your Emotional Support Animal. Just follow these easy steps:

Determine Whether You Qualify

In less than half an hour, you can find out if you meet the criteria to qualify for an ESA letter. Simply fill out the official American Service Pets questionnaire to get started.

Get a Doctor's Approval

American Service Pets gives you the power to choose whether you want to file with your own doctor or with a doctor in our network for approval and authorization. Our network of doctors is available 24/7. Most of the time, requests are approved in just a few minutes, and the approval will be emailed to you.

Add Your Pet to the National Directory

Adding your pet to the national directory of Emotional Support Animals is an important part of the process. Once you complete this step, you’ll have an online profile showing your pet’s ESA status and paperwork.

95% of our applicants qualify for an ESA letter. You can get yours with American Service Pets today.

Why Choose American Service Pets

The network of pet owners who have certified their Emotional Support Animals with American Service Pets is now over 45,000 strong. Here’s why you should choose American Service Pets for your ESA and PSA needs:

How To Get Your Emotional Support Animal Letter in Wisconsin with American Service Pets

Our simple process alleviates worries about being separated from your animal or being punished for having one. Get started by taking our short online test.

Trusted Nationwide for Emotional Support Animal Certification

Don’t put up with harassment from people who don’t understand the importance of the connection between you and your ESA. American Service Pets is here to help you certify your Emotional Support Animal in Iowa so you can say goodbye to fears about housing and travel-related fees. If you qualify, you can get certified in just a few short minutes! 

Disclaimer: We would like to emphasize that while the terms “certification” or “registration” may be used in relation to Emotional Support Animals, there is no official certification process for ESAs or any form of ESA registry as of this date. As such, the use of these terms should not be interpreted as legally recognized designations by government or regulatory authorities. Remember, ESAs can provide a valuable source of comfort and support, but their recognition relies on proper documentation from a healthcare professional and adherence to relevant laws and guidelines.

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