As a New Yorker, you may be wondering if owning an emotional support animal (ESA) is right for you. These animals (ranging from traditional dogs and cats to more exotic fare like hedgehogs or birds) can help alleviate symptoms for a variety of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Anyone who has been diagnosed with one of these conditions can obtain an ESA to act as a close companion. There are some special privileges for folks with emotional support animals (including being able to fly with your ESA and avoiding housing discrimination). So, if you’re asking yourself, “Can I have an emotional support animal in New York?” the answer is yes! To get started, you’ll need to get an ESA letter in New York to certify your pet. Keep reading for everything you need to know about ESA ownership in the Empire State.
First off, it’s critical to understand that the state of New York does not recognize ESAs as service animals, because they do not provide people with aid in completing specific tasks. Therefore, you are not permitted to bring your pet into all public places. There might be some stores or businesses that will be lenient if you show your New York ESA letter, but they’re not required to allow you to bring your pet inside. However, there is a big difference when it comes to housing. If you have an emotional or mental disability, you have the right to own an ESA in rental accommodation, even if the apartment building or co-op has a no pets policy. Your landlord must allow your ESA to live with you if you meet the requirements for a disability (such as income and credit history), if you are reasonable with your choice of ESA (no extremely large or loud animals), and if the ESA assists you with your mental illness symptoms. Don’t forget, though: your landlord can deny you housing in the state of New York if your emotional support animal causes damage to the property, is noisy, or harms other tenants.
If you wish to apply for an ESA letter in New York, there are a few simple steps to take. You can meet with a mental health professional (therapist, psychiatrist, etc.) to assess whether you could benefit from owning an ESA. If they think you could, they should write a letter stating this, while also including basic information about your diagnosis and symptoms. If you don’t have a professional like this in your life, or if it’s difficult for you to make it in person to an appointment, you can consider using a service like Moosh. They can connect you to a licensed medical professional, who can assess your need for an ESA and then write a certified letter for you. You can also purchase ID cards and vests for your ESA to wear when they’re out and about.
When going about getting your New York ESA letter, keep in mind that there are many scam websites out there that try to trick people into purchasing fraudulent letters. For example, for an ESA letter to be authentic, it must have the mental health professional’s name, specialty, type of medical license, license registration number, and both the issue date and expiration date of the license. The letter must also contain correct contact information for the provider, the type of animal and name of animal being registered, and an ESA certificate ID number. Legitimate letters will also always have an expiration date on the letter for no later than one year from the issue date, so that you’ll need to get a renewed certification from them every year in order for your ESA’s certification to remain valid.
Living in New York with an ESA can be a tad challenging if your pet is on the larger size. That’s because dogs are permitted on New York subways, but only as long as they can fit in a container or in your backpack or purse. Again, because emotional support animals are not classified as service animals, you can’t typically take them on any form of transportation without having a problem. Smaller animals might be permitted in New York taxis or in an Uber ride, but you always have to clear it with your driver first. Otherwise, if you plan on just walking with your ESA or driving yourself, you’ll be okay. There are some restaurants and stores that are fine with animals, so you can seek these out ahead of time to know where your emotional support animal will be permitted to go.
As far as city living, it’s important for you to evaluate what kind of pet would be the best for your particular circumstances. If you’re living in a cramped NYC apartment, chances are you don’t want a large dog or a miniature horse as an ESA. Likewise, if you’re in close quarters with your neighbors, they most likely won’t appreciate an ESA that makes a lot of loud noises (a la birds). Unless you live upstate on a large property with a yard, it’s best for you to think about what would be ideal for you (and your ESA) considering your current housing situation. Thinking this through can even help you determine which dog breed would be best for you. If your dog will be locked up in the apartment all day, you don’t want a breed that is super active and needs lots of exercise. Luckily, NYC does have plenty of dog parks you can take advantage of with your ESA if you find that these types of breeds will probably still work for you. As for the climate, you might not always want to take your pet outdoors during snowy weather or extreme humidity in the summer. Just factor all of these aspects in when choosing your emotional support animal, and you’ll be able to come up with a great option for NYC living.
There can be countless benefits to owning an ESA in New York, including a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety and a close connection with another being. Having an ESA can mean you isolate less and become more involved in the world around you. New York is an incredible state to explore, so you should consider getting an emotional support animal to help you feel more comfortable while you’re out on your adventures. Just follow these tips to see which ESA to get and how to obtain your New York ESA letter now!