What could be better than having one emotional support animal? Having two! However, there are some important rules and regulations you need to consider if you’re going to have more than one ESA pet.
We’re going to explore your options on owning multiple ESA animals and walk you through how it affects your legal rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
How to Get an ESA
When you set out on your journey to get an ESA pet, it’s important to know that they are not for everyone. Emotional support animals are for people who suffer from an emotional or mental disability, and their job is to help treat that disorder or illness, acting as a furry form of therapy. An emotional support animal can be any domesticated pet that can behave in small spaces and follow simple rules and commands. Your pet right now could become an emotional support animal, but this is only the case if you get the all-important ESA letter.
An emotional support animal letter is prescribed to you by a licensed mental health professional. This mental health professional, typically a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist, takes the time to access you and prescribes you with a specific mental or emotional disorder. After you have been diagnosed, the mental health professional writes your ESA letter.
An ESA letter states the facts and details of your mental health disorder and explains that the mental health professional has prescribed you with the treatment of an emotional support animal pet.
Once you have this letter, you are entitled to two major legal benefits:
- You are allowed to live with your pet regardless of any housing stipulations or no pet policies.
- You are allowed to travel with your pet on an airplane anywhere in the United States of America.
This letter affords you many rights, so use them to make the most of your emotional support pet.
Now That You Have One Emotional Support Animal, Can You Get a Second?
The good news is that yes, you absolutely can. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes allowances for more than one emotional support animal, and even stipulates that in some cases, a person with an emotional or mental disability may, in fact, require multiple animals for successful treatment.
However, the same act does acknowledge situations where having more than one emotional support animal may be an issue. This includes fair housing (to a lesser degree) and more importantly, when flying on a plane.
It really comes down to basic common sense. An airline will not be capable of providing space to three large Labradors, nor would a small apartment be able to reasonably meet the needs of the owner and these animals.
Living with Multiple ESAs
The Americans with Disabilities Act does not lay out strict terms on how many emotional support animals an ESA letter holder is allowed to have on their property. However, the Fair Housing Amendments Act varies slightly on the interpretation of this rule. There is not a 100% clear ruling on this, and some landlords open complaints based on the vagueness of the law.
The best way to protect yourself is when being prescribed your ESA letter by a mental health professional, be sure that multiple pets are included in the letter, and that it is explicitly states that each pet provides some form of emotional or mental therapy. That should ensure you have a strong case against any landlord attempting to refuse you fair accommodation under the ADA.
If you have multiple emotional support animals, you need to discuss your situation with your landlord and agree on mutually beneficial terms.
It’s important to consider all of the animals’ needs and living environment, and to determine what kind of impact multiple emotional support animals may have in a shared building. Most importantly, common sense needs to come into play, you will need to access your living conditions and ensure that they will be comfortable for both you and all of your ESA pets.
Flying with More Than One Emotional Support Animal
Little has been reported on this matter. Most airlines have a one pet per passenger rule, however, it is possible to use a certified ESA letter to fly with multiple pets. The majority of major US airlines only consider dogs and miniature horses as service pets, which is important to consider when flying, but they cannot refuse you if you fly with a different form of ESA pet.
A lot of people have been able to successfully fly with numerous pets without an issue. Many airlines are scared of discrimination lawsuits and may not even ask to see an ESA letter, but others request notification that an ESA pet or pets will be on board the flight with you.
It’s important to consider that you’ll need to have control of the ESA pets at all times during the flight. For example, you can’t unleash 15 cats to roam free on the plane.
The pets will be expected to remain in your lap or under your seat and cannot be disruptive or aggressive during the flight. If you’re going to fly with multiple ESA pets, you need to be realistic about how well-trained your pets are, or you will be held liable for any damage they cause on a plane.
We also recommend that you contact your chosen airline 48 hours before flying to ensure that there are no issues with multiple pets. Air travel is stressful enough without unwanted drama at the gates – that’s why you have an ESA pet in the first place after all!
Now that you have the ins and outs of emotional support animals, take time to consider if you need more than one. If you do, just know that you’ll have double the responsibility, but also double the love and support!