Service Animals vs Emotional Support Animals

Hi everybody. Cheryl Knowlton, CEO of Dynamite Productions, coming at you with another thought on fair housing.

Just make sure, as a real estate professional, that you understand there is a distinct and very important difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal. There are actually some really amazing documentation sources that I would be very happy to provide you with if you are interested in learning about the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, and their stance and their defined definition of a service animal versus an emotional support animal. Service animals can only be, according to the ADA, a dog.

A Bird is not a service animal

Service dogs and emotional support animals emblems with health care related icons

Occasionally, in some jurisdictions, it can be a miniature horse, but when you hear about snakes on a plane… And I literally opened my eyes on an airplane, I was absolutely exhausted, and there was a bird, like a parrot, two rows up, aisle C, I nearly needed emotional support.

My understanding is that birds are not supposed to be on planes and that if they are allowed to be on planes, A, it’s the airline’s decision and, B, it’s supposed to be kept in a cage under the seat. Neither of those things happened. It was on this woman’s lap, and I seriously nearly freaked out. And I don’t freak out about stuff, but that was just so unexpected and I thought, “What if this bird just starts flying around?” Not okay. Thank heaven it wasn’t a snake. I would have completely come absolutely unhinged if that had been the case. No snakes on a plane, terrible movie. Samuel L. Jackson is a great actor, but that was not his finest hour.

So just make sure that you understand service animals, by the Americans with Disabilities Act, are allowed to go everywhere. They are specifically trained to perform a specific task for their owner.

Each has a different role

Emotional support animals serve a totally different role. And if you Google emotional support animals, the first four hits at least are going to be how you can access a kit so that you can download the letter from the doctor, buy the little vests. And the cheapest price that I have heard of is $22. Seriously not okay if someone is doing that for the purpose of trying to circumvent any kind of law or, heaven forbid, try to get out of a pet deposit. A lot of these things we need to know about as real estate professionals, especially if we serve in the area of property management. Know the law, abide by the law, help your clients stay safe. And that is your dynamite tip of the day.