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APRIL 2021 • WWW.AAGLA.ORG
A SHORT HISTORY ON EMOTIONAL SUPPORT AND SERVICE ANIMALS:
Know the Differences and What YOU Must Do When Getting an Accommodation Request
BYy Ari Chazanas, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Lotus West Properties
ou have probably seen service dogs play an essential role by assisting with everyday tasks, in public assisting their owners they have full public access rights and are legally with tasks and making their lives protected under the ADA, meaning owners can take easier. You have also likely heard them almost anywhere without being denied access. of amusing stories of unusual
animals riding along with their
owners on airplanes as emotional support animals or “ESAs.” This article will give you short history of service and emotional support animals, describe the differences between the two, and provide advice on what you should do when you
receive an accommodation request from a tenant.
Dogs are by far the most common type of service animal and the only animals that qualify as “service animals” under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). As far as 1 A.D., there are records of guide dogs assisting blind people that were found on European wood carvings and Chinese scrolls, but exactly when dogs began assisting the disabled is unknown. Other early record of guide dogs assisting the visually impaired was recorded at a Parisian hospital in the 1750s. However, much later during World War I, the widespread use of modern guide dogs began as many soldiers were left blinded by mustard gas. From then on, several organizations were created to train dogs for the visually impaired and today, dogs not only help people who are blind, but also those who have hearing impairments, sensory disabilities, and other special needs.
So, what exactly defines a service animal? As mentioned earlier, Title II and III of the ADA restricts the definition of a service animal to a dog (and in some cases, miniature horses), and more specifically, one that is trained to assist a person with a disability, which could be physical, sensory, psychiatric, or intellectual. Service dogs may be any breed of dog that perform tasks such as alerting their owners of certain sounds, sights, pressing buttons, or reminding them to take medication. Because these service dogs
You may be wondering about the difference between service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs). While they commonly get confused and the terms are used interchangeably, the key difference is that emotional support animals do not perform specific tasks and serve only a companion role to their owners—in other words, the “work” they do is just being there! Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not restricted to dogs and miniature horses and may often be other domestic animals. Emotional support animals are prescribed by mental health professionals to patients with diagnosed psychological or emotional disorders (in comparison to service animals, which serve people with physical disabilities as well), such as depression or panic attacks, which is why they must have calm and friendly temperaments and be comfortable around people. For an animal to be officially classified as an emotional support animal, the owner must have a letter from a licensed mental health professional.
Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not necessarily trained to work with a specific owner and can instead offer support in hospitals or schools. However, emotional support animals are not a subcategory of service animals, and they are not protected under the ADA. While they do not have full public access rights, the Fair Housing Act recognizes emotional support animals, as opposed to pets, as “reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities. This means that a property with a “no pets” policy must accommodate someone with an emotional support animal unless it is too big to live in the residence. Furthermore, property owners may not charge their tenants additional pet fees for emotional support animals such as pet rent, cleaning





















































































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