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How to Get Your Emotional Support Animal Certification in Texas

emotional support animal in Texas

Emotional Support Animals have become invaluable to many Texans battling chronic emotional troubles. They provide comfort, stability, and unconditional love when it’s needed most. State and federal protections exist for these animals, but there are still a few challenges to overcome.

Owners must obtain an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) certification letter to enjoy any of the privileges bestowed on Emotional Support Animals and Psychiatric Service Animals (PSA) in Texas. They face fines, fees, court costs, eviction, and denial of public access without it. A Texas ESA letter transfers to all other states in the country, but the privileges extended in other states can differ from Texas.

American Service Pets helps pet owners get their Emotional Support Animal certification for rental housing and public access. Pet deposits and extraneous fees no longer apply.

Qualify your animal with a Texas ESA certification letter now. 

The Emotional Support Animal Connection

Pets can be deemed as Emotional Support Animals if their owners depend on them for support. Studies have shown that animals are beneficial to human health in a variety of ways. Psychological trauma, in particular, can be relieved with an Emotional Support Animal.

Relief From Chronic Emotional Problems

The number one reason people use an Emotional Support Animal is for relief from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other emotional issues. Animals have this ability by nature and without training.

Rehabilitation Support

Emotional Support Animals provide a significant amount of comfort, which is beneficial to rehabilitation. People recovering from addiction and physical problems like strokes or broken bones can find comfort in the healing process with an Emotional Support Animal in their life.

Holistic Practice

Symptoms of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and panic, are treated with various prescription drugs, but they can be treated naturally with an Emotional Support Animal. Many Americans prefer a natural approach to health ailments to avoid risks associated with medications.

Relief from Loneliness

Emotional Support Animals make perfect companions. Just having a pet in your life decreases loneliness and boosts mood. They are excellent conversation starters and a fun way to meet new people when you’re out and about.

People suffering from chronic emotional trouble can have difficulties functioning in daily life without their support animals. American Service Pets helps owners register their animals as Emotional Support Animals in Texas. Find out if your pet qualifies for a Texas ESA certification letter today.

Texas Laws for Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals are not officially trained as such because they are comforting by nature. They don’t carry out lifesaving tasks or aid disabled people like service animals. They provide companionship, feelings of safety and comfort, and emotional support. The laws relating to both types of animals and their rights and responsibilities are different in Texas. Texas does not provide specific state privileges for Emotional Support Animals, but they remain protected under federal law.

Texas Emotional Support Animal Housing Laws

The Fair Housing Act provides for Emotional Support Animals in rental housing. Landlords cannot legally turn down a renter with a certified emotional support animal or charge pet deposits or extra fees. Renters are responsible for any damage their animal causes, however.

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Texas Emotional Support Animal Laws for Public Access

Emotional Support Animals have no legal right to be in public places in Texas. Grocery stores, state parks, beaches, theaters, malls, restaurants, and other public places may only allow animals inside at the owner’s discretion. Even service animals may be restricted if they violate rules of behavior, size, or temperament. 

Texas Emotional Support Animal Workplace Laws

Texas does not require employers to make any provisions for Emotional Support Animals in the workplace. They are not required by law to allow an employee to bring their Emotional Support Animal to work, even with a certification letter. That doesn’t mean you can’t try, however. Many employers will make an exception if the animal is small and well-behaved.

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Texas Emotional Support Animal Travel Laws

With The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) updated travel laws policy, most airlines have banned Emotional Support Animals from riding in airplane cabins. They can, however, travel in the dedicated animal section in the luggage compartment. Emotional Support Animals are also not allowed in public places in Texas unless specified by business management. Emotional Support Animals in Texas don’t enjoy many rights, but American Service Pets offers an easy three-step process to be certified for a Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA), which can travel in the main airplane cabin with their owner, along with accompanying them in most public spaces. To get started, take our quiz to see if you meet criteria for a PSA.

Emotional Support Animals in Texas don’t enjoy many rights, but American Service Pets offers an easy three-step process to provide Emotional Support Animal certification letters to Texas residents. Even though Texas doesn’t have many provisions for Emotional Support Animals, it doesn’t mean businesses aren’t willing to accommodate them. American Service Pets can help you find out if you qualify for an ESA or PSA certification letter in Texas.

The Basics

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

Yes, Texas abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but also has its own laws.

Definition of a "Service Animal"

Under Texas’ Human Resources Code, a service animal or an assistance animal is a dog that is specially trained to assist someone with a disability and is actually used by a person with a disability. (*Important to note that while state law conflates “service animal” and “assistance animal,” they are two separate categories of animals under federal law. Assistance animals may not always enjoy the same protections as service animals.)

What is considered a disability in the state?

deafness/hearing impairment, visual impairment, or speech impairment; mental, physical, intellectual, or developmental disability; PTSD; any health impairment for which a person needs special ambulatory services or devices

What animals qualify as a service animal?

Under the ADA, a service animal can be a dog or in some cases, a miniature horse. Texas does not have additional clarification on this. Service animals can be professionally trained or trained by the handler themselves.

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

Yes, Texas law imposes penalties for this action. As of September 1st, 2023, falsely claiming a service animal is a misdemeanor in the state of Texas and is punishable by a fine of not more than $1000 and 30 hours of community service to be performed for a governmental entity or nonprofit organization that primarily serves persons with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed within a year.

Do state laws provide coverage for service animals in training?

From the Texas Human Resources Code: “A service animal in training must not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer.”

Do state laws provide coverage for Emotional Support Animals?

No, neither Texas state law nor the ADA provide the same rights to ESAs that they do to service and assistance animals.

Public Accommodations & Travel with a Service Animal

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

This is a very broad term in Texas, as the state defers to the ADA’s definition. This includes hotels and other lodging establishments, public transportation terminals, depots, and stations, restaurants and other places that serve food and drink, sales or rental establishments, service establishments, any place of public gathering (ie. auditorium or convention center), places of entertainment and exhibit (ie. theaters or sports stadiums), gyms, bowling alleys, and exercise facilities, recreational facilities such as zoos and parks, libraries, museums, and other places where items are collected or displayed publicly, educational institutions, and social service centers.

Can a public establishment question a service animal?

No public accommodation in Texas may make demands or ask questions about your service animal’s certification or qualifications, except to determine what kind of assistance the animal provides. If a disability is not apparent, the establishment may ask whether your animal is a service animal and what work it is trained to do for you.

What are the rules regarding service animals on public transportation?

You cannot be charged extra for a service animal on public transportation (unless it causes damage, in which case you may be responsible for covering the cost of the damage).

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

If you use a service animal to assist you with travel or auditory awareness, the animal must be in a harness and leash.

Are there laws about service animals in the workplace?

The ADA does not specifically address service animals in the workplace, but a service animal may qualify as a reasonable accommodation. As a result, professionally written verification may be requested by an employer when it is not obvious that the animal is a service animal. Comfort or emotional support animals are not included in this rule and are in essence classified as “pets.”

Are service animals allowed access to healthcare facilities?

Yes, service animals are allowed access in accordance with the ADA, unless the presence of the animal creates a direct threat to other persons or a fundamental alteration in the nature of services. Decisions to allow service animals access to certain areas of healthcare facilities are to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account CDC Guidelines.

Are there penalties for public places that refuse service animals?

Yes, there are penalties for refusing to allow a service animal in public accommodation. The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $300 and 30 hours of community service for a governmental entity or nonprofit organization that primarily serves persons with disabilities or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in one year.

Texas 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 disability and may include psychiatric service dogs. Miniature horses are excluded from 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?

Under Texas’ service animal law, people with disabilities who have service animals are entitled to full and equal access to housing. You may not be required to pay extra for a service animal or pay a special deposit.

Am I liable for damage caused by my service animal?

Yes, as a service animal owner/handler, you can be held liable for any damages your animal causes to the property or to another person.

Do housing laws extend to ESAs?

The federal Fair Housing Act extends to offer protections for both service dogs and emotional support animals, if necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a residence. To fall under this provision, you must have a disability and a disability-related need for the animal.

Discrimination Complaints

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

Title III of the ADA covers discrimination in public accommodations, transportation, and commercial facilities. You can file a complaint through the Department of Justice within 180 days of the alleged discrimination by submitting an online form, letter, or via a phone call.

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)?

From the Texas Workforce Commission: “If you believe you may have been discriminated against while trying to buy, finance, or rent a home or apartment in Texas, you may submit a discrimination complaint through the TWC Civil Rights Division. You may submit up to one year from the alleged discrimination.

How to Obtain an Emotional Support Animal Certification Letter in Texas

Getting your pet certified as an Emotional Support Animal is a necessary but simple process to enjoy the rights afforded to them. It can be accomplished online in a few minutes. American Service Pets offers a quick method to get your animal certified as an Emotional Support Animal. It involves only three simple steps.

Fill Out the Questionnaire

It takes approximately three minutes to answer the American Service Pets questionnaire to determine your Texas ESA certification letter eligibility. 

Medical Approval

American Service Pets allows you to submit your file to a licensed Texas state-approved doctor for authorization. Doctors are always available, and most requests gain approval within three to five minutes. Certifications are delivered immediately via email.

Add Your Pet to the International Directory

Add your pet to the international directory to get an online pet profile that shows your pet’s status and certification letter for public view, so anyone can view it whenever needed. Approximately 95% of applicants qualify for Emotional Support Animal certifications. 

Benefits of American Service Pets

The mission of American Service Pets is to help people suffering from mental or emotional issues get the therapeutic benefits of an emotional support pet. Here are some of the benefits of working with us:

Texas ESA Certifications

American Service Pets helps people in need register their pets as emotional support, so they are never without the help they need, but forgo the extra fees and rules of a normal pet. Take the simple questionnaire to get your pet certified in just a few minutes with American Service Pets. If you have additional questions before applying for a Texas ESA certificate, call us at (512) 481-2920.

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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