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How to Get Your Emotional Support Animal Certification
in Washington

emotional support animal in Washington

Emotional Support Animals have become an integral part of the mental health landscape in the United States. They offer benefits for various illnesses and ailments, from anxiety and depression to chronic conditions. 

Not everyone accepts these loving animals, though, despite their proven therapeutic benefits. One of the most significant issues is with rental property. Tenants can face fines, eviction, and court costs without proper documentation for their Emotional Support Animal in Washington. State and federal laws protect tenants’ rights with these animals, but they must obtain a certification letter. Landlords must follow these laws or face the penalties.

American Service Pets helps tenants get the certification they need for an Emotional Support Animal. Don’t pay pet deposits or extraneous fees ever again.
Qualify for your animal with a Washington ESA certification letter now.

Advantages of Emotional Support Animals

An Emotional Support Animal can be any kind of animal, although they are often of the canine variety. They are certified therapy animals that help their owners get through symptoms of mental health disorders and impart myriad health benefits, such as:

Genuine Support

Emotional Support Animals provide a feeling of calmness and security needed to maneuver through stressful moments. Simply holding a beloved animal helps relieve overwhelming stress from things that bother people every day, such as personal issues or problems with finances or relationships.

Relief From Loneliness

Emotional Support Animals make magnificent friends. Just having one in your life decreases loneliness and boosts your mood, according to the National Institutes of Health. They are excellent conversation starters and a fun way to meet new people at the park or on a walking trail. There are also a lot of animal-friendly restaurants in the Washington area. 

Natural Medicine

Symptoms of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and panic attacks, are treated with all sorts of different prescription drugs, but they can also be treated naturally with an Emotional Support Animal.

Many people are unable to function in stressful circumstances without their Emotional Support Animals. American Service Pets helps pet owners register for theirs. Find out if you qualify for a Washington ESA certification letter today. 

Washington Emotional Support Animal Laws

Emotional Support Animals are not officially trained. They don’t perform life saving tasks or help disabled people function in life like service animals. They provide companionship, feelings of safety and comfort, and emotional support, like a friend. The laws governing both types of animals and their owner’s rights and responsibilities are different. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Washington State law do not provide the same protections for both groups of animals. Emotional Support Animals may not be allowed in some public places, because Washington leaves the decision to the discretion of the business owners. This changes if the animal is certified as a Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA). 

Washington State Rule WAC 216-100-197 states that animals used for therapeutic purposes must present:

Only a state-licensed mental health professional can issue an ESA letter in Washington. Official certification letters are accepted nationwide, but specific provisions vary from state to state, so always check the state laws if you’re traveling or relocating. Here are some other Washington laws that apply:

Housing Laws

A landlord in Washington is prohibited by law from evicting, charging an extra deposit, or levying additional fees on any tenant for having a certified Emotional Support Animal, even if they have a policy banning pets. Landlords have the right to ask for an official Emotional Support Animal certification letter as proof of necessity. Owners need one letter per pet in Washington.

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Public Places

Emotional Support Animals have no legal rights in public places by Washington or federal law. Grocery stores, theaters, restaurants, and other public places may only allow animals inside at the owner’s discretion.

Workplace Laws

Employers in Washington are under no legal obligation to allow an Emotional Support Animal into their facility. State laws leave that decision to the business owner. Places that allow for them have the right to ask for the animal’s vaccination record, license, and certification letter.

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Travel Laws

Due to The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) updated travel laws policy the majority of airlines have disallowed Emotional Support Animals from riding in the main airplane cabin as of 2020. Washington also does not allow ESAs in public places, including public transportation such as buses, trains, and ride-sharing vehicles, unless the business allows it. If you do need a travel companion, we recommend taking our pet owner survey to see if you qualify for a Psychiatric Service Animal certification (PSA), which will allow you to travel with your pet on airplanes and most forms of public transit.

Emotional Support Animals in Washington don’t enjoy as many rights as they do in other states. American Service Pets is proud to offer an easy three-step process to provide Emotional Support Animal and Psychiatric Service Animal certification letters to Washington residents that validate their animals’ legal status.

The Basics

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

Washington has the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) in place to cover service dogs and their handlers. It also abides by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Definition of a "Service Animal"

The WLAD covers both dog guides and service animals. A dog guide is defined as a dog that is trained for the purpose of guiding blind persons or assisting hearing impaired persons. A service dog is defined as “any dog or miniature horse 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. The work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.”

What is considered a disability in the state?

Disabilities in Washington can be sensory, mental, or physical under the law.

What animals qualify as a service animal?

Both the ADA and Washington State law cover dogs and miniature horses under the definition of 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. In Washington, it is a civil infraction for a person to misrepresent an animal as a service animal. The penalty for the civil infraction can be up to $250 for the first violation and additional fees for subsequent violations.

Do state laws provide coverage for service animals in training?

Washington State law does not address service animals-in-training. Businesses may allow a service animal-in-training access, but they are not under a legal obligation to do so.

Do state laws provide coverage for Emotional Support Animals?

The training requirement within the WLAD often eliminates emotional support animals, therapy dogs, and comfort animals from coverage when it comes to public accommodations. The same limitations do not apply when it comes to housing though.

Public Accommodations & Travel with a Service Animal

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

The WLAD says that people with disabilities may bring their service animals into all places of public accommodation, resort, amusement, or assembly. The definition is very broad and includes any places that offers medical services, entertainment, lodging, burial services, goods, food, drink, transportation, sports recreation, and more. It also covers public buildings, halls, elevators, bathrooms, schools, libraries, and camps or daycare centers for children.

Can a public establishment question a service animal?

A business may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what task(s) the animal is trained to do. Depending on the handler’s answers, the animal may or may not be excluded from the establishment.

Are there any exceptions to public accommodations allowances?

Yes, neither the ADA nor Washington State cover religious entities under public accommodations statutes, even if the religious organization offers secular services like daycare. Private organizations are also not subjected to these regulations, unless the organization allows public use of facilities to nonmembers.

What are the rules regarding service animals on public transportation?

Public transportation falls under public accommodations in Washington State. People with service animals may use public transportation without having to pay an extra fee. The driver or operator of the vehicle may ask if the animal is a service animal to determine if a fare is appropriate.

Are there laws about service animals in the workplace?

Washington’s law has a provision that states “It is an unfair practice of an employer… to request that a trained dog guide or service animal be removed from the workplace…” The only exception to this rule is if the animal is out of control and poses an immediate risk or danger to the people or property of the business.

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

No, Washington State does not have a requirement of documentation or identification for service dogs, including the use of special tags.

Are service animals allowed access to healthcare facilities?

Yes, according to the Washington State Hospital Association, handlers may be accompanied by service animals on hospital premises as long as they are in areas of the facility where “health care personnel, patients, and visitors are permitted without taking added precautions.” Service animals may be barred access from sterile environments, such as burn units or operating rooms.

Are there penalties for public places that refuse service animals?

Yes, refusal of a service dog may open the door for legal action to be taken against an establishment.

Washington 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?

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.

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?

The Washington State Human Rights Commission enforces fair housing laws based on both the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the WLAD. Under these laws, a housing provider may not discriminate against people with disabilities and must reasonably accommodate people with disabilities.

Am I liable for damage caused by my service animal?

While you cannot be charged extra for simply having a service animal, you may be charged liable for any damage your animal causes.

Do housing laws extend to ESAs?

Yes, fair housing laws do not include a dog training requirement for therapy dogs, ESAs, or comfort animals in Washington State, so these animals are covered. However, you must still request a reasonable accommodation for your assistance animal, and you may need to give your housing provider an ESA letter in Washington State.

Discrimination Complaints

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

You can file a discrimination complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission if you are denied public access with your service dog. Complaints related to employment, public accommodation, credit, or insurance must be filed within six months of the alleged violation.

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)?

Housing complaints can also be filed through the Washington State Human Rights Commission, and you have up to one year from the date of the alleged discrimination do file. For housing complaints, the WSHRC recommends calling directly at 1-800-233-3247.

How to Obtain an Emotional Support Animal Certification Letter in Washington

American Service Pets offers a quick and easy process 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 eligibility for certification.

Get a Doctor’s Approval

American Service Pets allows you to submit your file to a licensed Washington state-approved doctor for authorization. Doctors are always available, and most requests are approved 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.

Approximately 95% of applicants qualify for Emotional Support Animal certifications. See if you qualify today!

Benefits of American Service Pets

American Service Pets has qualified over 45,000 people nationwide for emotional support animals. Here’s why we’re your go-to for this service:

Washington ESA Certification Letter

Your pet brings you amazing physical and psychological benefits, and now’s your chance to make sure those can’t be denied. ESA certification can make your special relationship valid in the eyes of the law.

Let Us Help You Get Certified for an Emotional Support Animal In Washington

Landlords and others can make it difficult for those who rely on their pets for support, but having an ESA certificate forces them to accept the importance of this healing bond. Answer the five questions on our simple questionnaire today and you’ll be on your way to getting certified, usually on the same day, for an Emotional Support Animal in Washington. If you have additional questions before applying, call us at (360) 200-0148 to speak to a real person.

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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