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How to Get Your Emotional Support Animal Certification
in North Carolina

How To Get Certified For A North Carolina ESA Letter

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a tremendous help to anyone dealing with emotional turmoil or psychological trauma. Their ESAs provide relief from loneliness, boost happiness hormones, and act as a form of natural medicine successful in managing PTSD, depression, and other emotional health issues. Ensuring these animals are recognized for their health-enhancing benefits is thus increasingly important.

It can be challenging to find rental homes or establishments that allow pets in North Carolina. Landlords can be tenacious about animals, despite their proven therapeutic advantages. Tenants can end up facing court proceedings — and all the associated fees — without the correct documentation for their ESAs. 

Federal and North Carolina state laws enable tenants to have an ESA in their rentals as long as they have legal certification, however. American Service Pets helps them get the authorization they need for an Emotional Support Animal. Find out if you qualify for a North Carolina ESA letter now. 

The Benefits of an ESA

A qualified support animal can be any animal (although most are dogs) that provides a sense of comfort and a calming effect when emotions run high. They are necessary for many people to get through their daily routines. They provide a few extra rewards, too, such as:

Genuine Support & Comfort

An ESA provides the sense of calm and security needed to move through uncomfortable moments. Simply holding a much-loved animal can help ease overwhelming stress from life’s routine problems, like overdue bills and rocky relationships.

Relief From Loneliness

Support animals are great pals. Having one in your life lessens loneliness and boosts happiness hormones, according to the National Institutes of Health. They’re a fun way to meet new people because they’re no-fail conversation starters when visiting North Carolina’s many pet-friendly parks, trails, and restaurants.

Natural Medicine

Prescription drugs are a common way to treat the symptoms of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and panic attacks, but they can also be treated with an ESA. These animals work as a natural medicine by boosting happiness, providing comfort, and easing loneliness without drugs.

Physical Rehabilitation

People recovering from addiction, stroke, or accidents can find great comfort and support in their animals during the healing process. They boost morale and keep your spirits high.

Stress is related to motivation. It’s hard to concentrate on today or think positively about the future when your mind is full of worry. A stressful environment can stop many people from functioning well if they don’t have their ESA. American Service Pets helps pet owners coping with emotional issues register for theirs.

Find out if you qualify for a North Carolina ESA letter today. 

North Carolina ESA Laws

Animal companions come in many different types, each of which has its own personality and benefits. An ESA provides companionship, safety, and comfort, but it can’t help a person with diabetes get insulin, assist a blind person across the street, or sense the onset of an emotional disorder, such as official service animals or Psychiatric Service Animals (PSAs). PSAs are allowed more privileges and rights than an ESA in North Carolina, but neither is allowed in some public places. North Carolina law lets business owners make their own decisions in this matter. 

Only a licensed mental health professional can issue an ESA letter in North Carolina. Official letters are accepted all over the country, but individual stipulations vary from state to state. Always check the state laws if you’re traveling or relocating. 

Here are some critical North Carolina laws that apply:

Housing Laws

Tenants who own an Emotional Support Animal in North Carolina cannot legally be evicted or charged any pet fees, including extra deposits. Landlords have a right to view the ESA letter and can still turn an animal down if it’s too large for the property, is destructive, or isn’t housebroken. North Carolina law dictates that landlords must make reasonable accommodations for a legally authorized ESA in rental units, provided they have:

  • Up-to-date immunization records
  • A North Carolina state pet license
  • An ESA letter
Housing Laws for North Caroline ESAs
Public Access Laws North Carolina ESA

Public Access Laws

An Emotional Support Animal has no right to public access in North Carolina. Venue owners have all discretionary rights in this matter. This includes:

  • Beaches
  • Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Tourist attractions
  • Malls
  • Theaters

North Carolina state parks and municipalities don’t allow ESAs, for example, but they do allow PSAs. It may be best to call and make sure the business is open to an ESA to avoid surprises. 

Workplace Laws

An ESA letter doesn’t guarantee that an employer in North Carolina will allow a comfort animal in the workplace. A lenient one may permit an ESA so long as the animal is unobtrusive, clean, and housebroken, but there’s no law requiring them to do so.

Workplace Laws for North Carolina Emotional Support Animals
Travel Laws for North Carolina ESA

Travel Laws

The Department of Transportation (DOT) updated travel laws in 2020 to let airlines decide whether they allow Emotional Support Animals in airplane cabins. Most have banned them. North Carolina doesn’t allow them in public places, including transportation. This includes:

  • Buses
  • Subways
  • Trains
  • Uber, Lyft, and taxis – unless the business allows it 

Emotional Support Animals in North Carolina don’t enjoy as many rights as they do in other states, but keeping them at home is a significant benefit. American Service Pets is proud to help North Carolinians get an ESA letter to validate their animals’ legal status. 

FAQ
The Basics

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

For the most part, North Carolina abides by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The state also has some additional laws securing the rights of individuals with service animals.

Definition of a "Service Animal"

North Carolina defers to the ADA’s definition for service animals. This means that a service animal is “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

What is considered a disability in the state?

A disability is defined in North Carolina as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities” of an individual.

What animals qualify as a service animal?

The only species of animals recognized under the ADA are dogs and miniature horsees. North Carolina does not have a specific limitation.

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

Yes, North Carolina law applies to animals training to become service animals as well. The animal must wear a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies it as a service animal in training.

Do state laws provide coverage for service animals in training?

Yes, North Carolina law applies to animals training to become service animals as well. The animal must wear a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies it as a service animal in training.

Do state laws provide coverage for Emotional Support Animals?

Because Emotional Support Animals are not trained to perform specific tasks, public accommodations are not required to admit them. North Carolina does not have any additional provisions for ESAs in public accommodations.

FAQ
Public Accommodations & Travel with a Service Animal

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

Under North Carolina law, you are able to bring your service animal anywhere the public is invited to go. This creates a wide range of public accommodations including hotels and other types of lodging; all places of accommodation, amusement, or resort; and any form of public transportation.

Can a public establishment question a service animal?

Business owners can only ask whether the animal is a service animal and what work or task(s) the animal has been trained to perform.

What are the rules regarding service animals on public transportation?

Public transportation is included under public accommodations provisions in North Carolina law, meaning that service dog handlers must be allowed the same privileges as non-disabled individuals.

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

While not required, service dog handlers do have the option to register their service dog. By filling out this form, service dog handlers can receive a registration tag for their animal’s collar stamped “NORTH CAROLINA SERVICE ANIMAL REGISTRATION,” as well as an identification card for their wallets. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services is responsible for sending out these materials.

Are there laws about service animals in the workplace?

North Carolina law is extremely broad regarding public accommodations, meaning that service animals are permitted in most work locations. The only exclusions to service animals would be if making modifications for the animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the business’ goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations; or there are legitimate safety requirements necessary for the safe operation of the business.

Are service animals allowed access to healthcare facilities?

Yes, service animals are permitted to be in hospitals. However, according to state law, service animals may be excluded from areas like operating rooms, burn units, coronary care units, dialysis units, intensive care units, and areas designated as infectious care or isolation areas. Generally, service animals can go anywhere their owners can go unless the animals pose a greater hazard than the owners do in the same place.

Are there penalties for public places that refuse service animals?

Yes, in North Carolina it is a Class 3 misdemeanor to deny a person with a disability (or a person training a service animal) rights to use their service animal in public. Business owners can be fined $200 and/or sued under federal, state, or civil laws for violation of service dog owners’ diability rights.

North Carolina 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.

FAQ
Housing Law

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

Federal and state laws provides disabled individuals with service dogs the same rights to housing with their animals that are granted to individuals who do not have disabilities. This applies to all housing, including residential communities, homes, and group homes.

Am I liable for damage caused by my service animal?

Yes, you are liable if your animal causes damage to the property or another person.

Do housing laws extend to ESAs?

The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects the right to have an “assistance animal” in the home, which includes both service animals and ESAs. Under this act, housing facilities must allow both types of animals without charging any kind of extra rent or fees.

FAQ
Discrimination Complaints

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

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, you have the right to file a complaint for any disability-based discrimination under federal and state laws. You can find more information and specific forms for different types of discriminatory complaints on the NCDHHS website.

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 believe you have been discriminated against regarding housing, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. It is important to file as soon as possible following an alleged discriminatory act, as there may be time limits on filing. You can also contact the regional FHEO branch. North Carolina is part of Region IV. The Greensboro Field Office specifically serves North Carolina and can be contacted at 336-547-4000 or NC_Webmanager@hud.gov.

How to Obtain an ESA Letter in North Carolina

American Service Pets believes in the power of Emotional Support Animals and the benefits to those who need them. That’s why we’ve taken pains to streamline the process as much as possible. Here are the steps:

Fill Out the Questionnaire

It takes approximately three 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 most requests are approved within three to five 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 legitimize their qualified animals. As many as 95% of applicants are eligible for ESA letters. See if you qualify in just a few minutes.

Benefits of American Service Pets

American Service Pets is dedicated to helping pet owners coping with emotional troubles. Here’s what makes us different from the rest:

3-Steps To Get Certified For An Emotional Support Animal in North Carolina

You depend on and enjoy the unique physical and psychological benefits your ESA brings, and now’s your chance to secure those rights. An ESA letter can make your special relationship legitimate in the eyes of the law.

Let Us Help You Get Certified for an Emotional Support Animal

Landlords and others can make it challenging for those who need their pets for support, but having an ESA letter enforces the importance of this therapeutic connection. 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 North Carolina. 

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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