Can people with service dogs live in apartments that have a no pet policy? Dogs are so much more than just a furry companion. These loyal, lovable creatures are now proving themselves to be of excellent service to those individuals that suffer from both physical and emotional conditions.
Even though dog-lovers throughout the ages can attest to the healing touch of a canine companion, the medical world is now also coming to the same realization. In fact, emotional support animals, service dogs, and psychiatric service dogs are so helpful that the Federal government is even recognizing their worth and have specific laws put into place protecting the rights of those who need one.
Let’s delve into the world of the service dog as it pertains to no pets policy apartments – you do have rights!
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Service Dogs VS the Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
There are two main categories when it comes to medically prescribed dogs; the Service Dog and the Emotional Support Animal.
Service Dogs are canines that have been specially trained to perform a task for the disabled individual. This can include picking up dropped items, guiding, opening doors, retrieving medications, etc.
The Emotional Support Animal, on the other paw, does not need to be trained but is there instead to offer unconditional love, friendship, and companionship for those folks that suffer from issues such as severe anxiety, depression, PTSD, phobias, etc. The ESA can also be of any species of animal including dogs, cats, rodent, birds, reptiles, etc.
Since the service dog is more highly trained, they are afforded more rights in the eyes of the law than the emotional support animal. The service dog is allowed into all public areas, whereas, an ESA is not.
However, both the service dog and ESA are given access to “no pets” policy apartments and rental homes.
What qualifies a person for a service dog?
To get a service dog, you must be diagnosed with the condition that meets the definition of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The canine must then be trained (either by you or a professional) to perform a task you cannot do for yourself. Once the dog is ready, you can then register it through a local bricks and mortar organization or online. Registering your service dog and outfitting it with a service dog vest will tell people that your dog is in the public area to help you and therefore it has the legal right to be there.
►►Want to know more? Check out our complete guide to getting a service dog for anxiety or depression.
Can your dog be a service dog?
Now that you understand how YOU qualify, you might be wondering if your current dog can be your service dog. The answer to that isn’t a cut-and-dry yes or no. It really depends on just how well-trained your dog is to begin with, how well he’ll take to service dog training, and the laws in your state. For example, if you have a puppy who excels in training and can successfully carry out all of the tasks expected of him as a service dog, then yes, you most likely can use your current dog. On the other hand, if you have a senior dog who is pretty set in her ways, no, it probably won’t work out. In most states, your pup will need to pass a special test to prove that he can handle all the tasks that go along with keeping you safe. Talk to your vet and a professional service dog trainer to find out more. You can also learn more at the Official Service Dog Registry website. Bottom line, though, you can’t just say “this is my dog, I need a service dog, therefore this is my service dog.”
►►Check out 4 Important Things You May Not Know About Service Dogs for more tips!
How do I register my dog as an emotional service dog?
While registering your current dog as a service dog isn’t easy, registering him as an ESA is a bit less tricky, once you’ve proven that you qualify for an ESA. The process of getting an ESA is similar to the service dog, whereas you must be diagnosed by a mental health professional in regards to your emotional or mental disability. When you are under the care of this doctor, you can ask for a letter or a prescription for the emotional support animal.
This letter must contain the following information;
- The reason why you need the ESA
- The letter must be written on your doctor’s letterhead
- It must contain your doctor’s license type, and where and when it was issued
- Your doctor’s signature
Once you have this letter, you can then use your current pet as an emotional support animal. If you decide to register your dog as an emotional support animal, you will be entered into a database and given a certificate to show your animal is more than just a pet. However, it is always wise to keep a copy of your original doctor’s note in case you need it. Do you have to pay a pet deposit for an emotional support animal? we need an answer to this.
Service Animals & No Pets Policy Apartments
Under the Federal law, both service dogs and emotional support animals have the right to live in “no pets” policy apartments. The landlord, owner or building manager must make what is called, reasonable accommodation for you and your dog/animal.
Reasonable accommodation allows you to use all areas of the apartment and property as long as it does not cause an undue financial burden on the property owner or the animal is not deemed as a threat or danger to the property and the other tenants.
It is also worthy to note that landlords cannot discriminate against a breed or weight of the animal (within reason) – you may have difficulty getting approval for a horse in an apartment.
You also cannot be charged any additional fees to have a service dog or emotional support animal in the rental unit; however, if your dog does significant damage, you can legally be asked to cover the cost of fixing it. So can apartments deny you if you have a service dog? The short answer is: No
►►Need some help finding the right service dog for you? Check out the 10 best dog breeds for apartments!
Service Dog Organizations (They Can Help)
There are several organizations that are tailor-made for individuals with all kinds of emotional or physical challenges. If you think you could benefit from a service dog or an emotional support animal, then check out some of these top service dog organizations.
The Seeing Eye – This group has been in service since the 1920s and was the first program of its kind in the United States to help those with visual problems. It offers weeks-long training on campus but does request a small service fee. However, this is significantly reduced for veterans, and most are covered by donations.
Warrior Canine Connection – Working to help support those veterans with PTSD (and other combat-related issues) these dogs are trained by veterans, then given to vets whose quality of life will be vastly improved by an ESA.
Assistance Dog United Campaign (ADUC) – This organization offers financial support for individuals that are living with disabilities who could benefit from a therapy dog. Whether that be a physical or emotional issue, this group recognizes the need and is there to help.
United States Dog Registry – Whether you have a service dog or an emotional support animal this organization can help you make your dog/animal official. Follow the steps to get your kit, then enjoy the benefits of having a legit service dog or ESA.
If you are suffering from an emotional or physical disability, then ask your doctor if you could benefit from a service dog or an emotional support animal. Even if you live in an apartment, you do have rights when it comes to your health and having an animal. Don’t suffer a moment longer when your furry support could be right around the corner.
Do you know someone that has a service dog or an emotional support animal? Then drop us a line in the comment section. We’d love to hear more!