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How to Get Your Emotional Support Animal Certification
in Massachusetts

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter in Massachusetts

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) assist their owners through psychologically trying times. They provide comfort and support when symptoms of their owner’s emotional or sensory issues manifest. There are specific laws to protect them in certain instances, but some opposition still occurs. That’s why recognizing these animals for their health benefits is so important.

Finding rental housing and other establishments that are pet-friendly in Massachusetts can be a chore. Landlords and business owners can be resistant when it comes to animals, despite their documented therapeutic rewards. Tenants can face eviction and associated costs without proper documentation for their ESA, and business owners can deny them admittance as well. 

The Fair Housing Act maintains that people with emotional disorders can legally keep an official ESA in their rental unit, providing they have proper documentation in the form of a Massachusetts ESA letter. American Service Pets helps them get the authorization they need for an Emotional Support Animal. Find out if you qualify now

The Benefits of Emotional Support Animals

Most qualified support animals are dogs because of their highly trainable nature, but they can be any animal that brings comfort. They are a necessity for many people who cope with depression and similar ailments. They also provide a slew of added rewards:

Genuine Support & Comfort

Support animals deliver the sense of tranquility and safety required to make it through awkward moments. Intermingling with animals can help ease overwhelming stress from routine problems, especially when it’s an animal you love.

Relief From Loneliness

Support animals make wonderful confidantes. They effectively combat loneliness and increase happiness hormones, according to the National Institutes of Health. These no-fail conversation starters are a sure-fire way to meet new people when visiting Massachusetts’s many pet-friendly establishments. 

Natural Medicine

Prescription medicine is the typical route conventional medicine takes to treat emotional disorders, such as panic attacks, but an ESA is also an effective remedy. Qualified support animals work as a natural medicine by improving mood, giving comfort, and alleviating loneliness without medications.

Physical Rehabilitation

People recovering from heart attacks, addiction, stroke, or severe injury can find a staunch support system in their animals during the healing process. They boost morale and keep you entertained.

It’s almost impossible to focus and feel grounded when the world around you is stressful. Many people coping with mental health concerns have trouble functioning at standard capacity without their ESA. 

American Service Pets helps pet owners coping with emotional issues register for their Emotional Support Animal. Find out if you qualify for a Massachusetts ESA letter today. 

Massachusetts ESA Laws

The many types of animal companions have an array of character traits and coinciding benefits. They provide security, comfort, and camaraderie, but ESAs cannot perform lifesaving duties, sense blood sugar levels dropping, or interrupt a panic attack. Official Psychiatric Service Animals are professionally trained to provide these specialized services. 

The differences in the tasks these animals perform lead to separate legal freedoms. Here are some key laws in Massachusetts that apply:

Housing Laws

The Federal Fair Housing Act and state housing laws prohibit landlords from evicting any tenant on the grounds of owning a comfort animal.  They can’t demand a pet deposit or levy extra charges upon any tenant with an ESA. 

Landlords have the right to view the authorized ESA letter, medical documentation of the disability, and how it dictates a need for a qualified animal. They also have the right to turn away tenants if their ESA is untrained, destructive, not house-trained, or will cause an undue financial burden.

Housing Laws for ESAs in Massachusetts
Public Access Laws for ESAs in Massachusetts

Public Places

Massachusetts business owners make their own decisions regarding assistance animals in their establishments. There is no law requiring them to allow these animals entrance as there is for landlords. ESAs are allowed access to any establishment that accepts pets in the state. This can include:

  • Beaches
  • Malls
  • Theaters
  • Tourist attractions
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores

It’s a good idea to call ahead to any establishment you plan to visit with your qualified animal. Learning the rules before you go can prevent any frustrating situations when you arrive.

Employment Laws

Massachusetts law doesn’t require employers to allow a qualified support animal in their establishment. Having an official Massachusetts ESA letter approved by a licensed therapist can be the defining factor to enable an ESA access with a compassionate employer.

Workplace Laws for Emotional Support Animals in Massachusetts
Travel Laws for Massachusetts ESAs

Travel Laws

The Department of Transportation’s formal travel guidelines no longer require comfort animals in-cabin without payment. Airlines can now make their own rules and mandates regarding in-cabin ESAs. Most have banned them unless they follow regular pet rules. 

Access to Massachusetts public transportation is not granted to ESAs, which includes:

  • Buses
  • Subways
  • Ride-share Apps
  • Railcars
  • Trams

It’s best to check with any airline or other transportation provider in advance, so you know what to expect.

Massachusetts Emotional Support Animals enjoy the right to stay in their homes with their owners, a right some say is the most important. American Service Pets is excited to offer Bay Staters an opportunity to validate the status of their ESA.

The Basics

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

Yes, Massachusetts has its own state laws in addition to complying with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Definition of a "Service Animal"

Massachusetts law says that service animals are dogs who assist individuals with sensory and/or physical disabilities. Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks or do work for the benefit of a person with a disability. The ADA definition of service animals includes psychiatric service animals.

What is considered a disability in the state?

Massachusetts defers to the ADA for the explanation of disability, which is broadly defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

What animals qualify as a service animal?

Massachusetts Service Animal Law limits service animals to dogs, but the ADA allows for trained miniature horses in some cases.

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

Massachusetts does not currently have a law on the books that criminalizes service dog falsification.

Do state laws provide coverage for service animals in training?

Yes, according to state law, a person who is raising or training a service dog (including a hearing, guide, or assistance dog) has the same rights as a disabled individual.

Do state laws provide coverage for Emotional Support Animals?

State and federal public accommodations laws do not apply to emotional support or therapy animals, as they are not task-trained.

Public Accommodations & Travel with a Service Animal

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

The Massachusetts definition of public accommodation is very broad, saying that public accommodations are “any place, whether licensed or unlicensed, which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.” The ADA also has an extremely broad definition of public accommodations, allowing individuals with service animals to go almost anywhere that is generally open to the public.

Can a public establishment question a service animal?

Only when it is not obvious can staff at a public accommodation ask two questions: “Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?” and “What task or service is the animal trained to perform?”

Are there any exceptions to public accommodations allowances?

Service animals do not have to be allowed to sit on furniture meant for patrons in public places, eat from plates provided at a food service establishment, or ride in shopping carts. If a service animal is not housebroken, is out of control, or is a threat to public health or safety, they may be removed or denied entry.

What are the rules regarding service animals on public transportation?

Massachusetts generally defers to the ADA for any public and private transportation (other than air transportation). This includes taxis, shuttles, subways, and buses. Individuals with service animals cannot be denied transportation, forced to sit in a particular spot, charged additional fees, or required to provide advance notice that they will be traveling with their animal.

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

Handlers of assistance animals in Massachusetts are not required to have any special certification or identification. However, all dogs, regardless of their status as a pet or a service/assistance animal, should be registered with their city or town.

Are there laws about service animals in the workplace?

The ADA does not specifically address service animals and emotional support animals, but individuals with disabilities do fall under the category of a protected group and are therefore entitled to request the use of the animal as a reasonable accommodation.

Are service animals allowed access to healthcare facilities?

Yes, according to Massachusetts state law, service animals are allowed in healthcare facilities, including “dental and medical offices, pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes.”

Are there penalties for public places that refuse service animals?

Anyone who attempts to charge an individual for their service animal or bar the animal from entry with its handler is subject to a fine of up to $300 and civic forfeiture of up to $100.

Massachusetts 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?

Both the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Massachusetts law prohibit discrimination in housing accommodations against those who use service animals. In Massachusetts, the housing discrimination law only specifically references dog guides used by those who are blind or deaf. However, reasonable accommodations must be made for all individuals with disabilities, so this definition could be expanded to include emotional support animals as well.

Am I liable for damage caused by my service animal?

Yes. While you cannot be charged additional fees simply for having a service dog, you may be liable for any damage the animal causes to the property.

Do housing laws extend to ESAs?

Yes, the FHA protects the right to have an emotional support animal in the home if its handler has a disability-related need for it.

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 at a public accommodation, you can file a complaint within 300 days of the alleged act with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. You can also contact the U.S. Department of Justice directly to file an ADA complaint, but you only have 180 days to do so.

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)?

Depending on where you are in Massachusetts, you can file a complaint with different local agencies. For example, those in Boston can contact the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston at 617-427-9740, while those in Central or Western Massachusetts can contact the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center at 800-675-7309. You can also always file a complaint through the Civil Rights Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office online or by calling 617-963-2917.

How to Obtain an Emotional Support Animal Certification Letter in Massachusetts

American Service Pets understand the importance of these animals and how crucial they are to their owners, so we’ve simplified the process to help even further. Here’s how to do it:

Fill Out the Questionnaire

It takes approximately 3 minutes to answer the American Service Pets questionnaire to determine your eligibility.

Get a Doctor’s Approval

American Service Pets allows you to submit your file to a licensed state-approved doctor for authorization. Doctors are always available, and they approve most requests within 3 to 5 minutes. Letters are emailed immediately.

Add Your Pet to the National Directory

Your pet gets an online pet profile on the national directory that shows its status and ESA letter for public view.

American Service Pets has helped over 45,000 pet owners nationwide endorse their qualified animals. As many as 95% of applicants are eligible for Massachusetts ESA letters. Take our pet owner survey to see if you qualify.

Benefits of American Service Pets

American Service Pets help applicants get the qualification they need for their Emotional Support Animal. Here are some factors that make us a good choice in Massachusetts:

How to Get An ESA Letter In Massachusetts

Now is your chance to secure your rights to the physical and psychological rewards of your ESA. An official ESA letter will legalize your therapeutic relationship.

Allow American Service Pets to Help Get Your ESA Approval

Finally getting legal approval for your ESA is a fantastic feeling, but not everyone is always on board. Persuade unwilling landlords and others of this vital connection with an ESA letter. Answer the five questions on our questionnaire today, and you’ll be on your way to getting qualified — usually on the same day — for an Emotional Support Animal in Massachusetts.

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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