If you’re considering getting an emotional support animal (ESA) to help with some of your mental health issues, you might be wondering how many emotional support animals you can actually own. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know before you acquire more than one ESA.
Some people do require more than one emotional support animal
The FAQs section of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that it is possible for people to require more than one or two service animals to help them function and perform day-to-day tasks. However, the ADA does not specifically mention how many emotional support animals a person can have. Because it’s possible for a person to need more than one service animal because of physical disabilities, the same goes for mental illnesses as well. However, the difference is that ESAs are not explicitly covered under the ADA, which means they have fewer protections under the law than service animals do. Basically, even if you do require more than one emotional support animal, the law can’t give you special privileges.
You are allowed to live with your emotional support animals
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), you are permitted to live with your emotional support animal, regardless of the type of housing. Landlords must allow you to live with your ESA (as long as you have the proper documentation – i.e. a legitimate ESA letter). On this note, it would be helpful if the ESA letter from your mental health professional regarding your need for an emotional support animal also stated why it’s essential for you to have more than one ESA living with you. This can demonstrate to your landlord why you have the need for more than one pet. Under the law, property owners have to extend the same rights to you as other tenants in fully utilizing all facilities of the complex or property. Property owners also can’t charge you an advance fee or deposit just because of your emotional support animals. However, you might face some blowback from your landlord if you want to own multiple pets, especially if they already have restrictions in place for how many animals tenants can have on the property. It doesn’t hurt to consult with your landlord and provide them with the ESA letter from your mental health professional to help explain your situation. You should still be prepared that your landlord could keep you from owning multiple ESAs, even with the FHA in place.
You must adhere to city guidelines
Every city or town in the U.S. (excluding more rural areas) has laws or regulations in place to restrict how many pets a person can own. The numbers can vary greatly depending on the area you live in. For example, some counties put the number at two pets, while others can be upwards of four or five. There are also restrictions depending on the type of pet you have – sometimes more cats are permitted than dogs. Before you acquire any emotional support animals, it’s always a good idea to consult with your city officials and determine how many animals you’re allowed to have in your home. In some jurisdictions, there are special permits you can apply for if you’re going to be possessing more animals than the current regulations allow for. Speaking with your city officials can help you come up with a game plan so that you know exactly how many ESAs you can have before you acquire your animals.
You should think about your living situation
Even if you’re allowed to have multiple animals (because you own your home, or your landlord permits it), it’s still a good idea to think through what your actual living arrangements are like. If you have plenty of space and lots of room for pets to roam around, then it should be fine for you to own multiple emotional support animals. On the other hand, if you live in close quarters or a more cramped space, you should consider whether it’s fair to own multiple animals. They deserve room to play and sleep, and if you can only provide that for one animal, you should reconsider owning multiple ESAs.
Consider whether you can afford the cost of owning multiple ESAs
Owning just one pet can be an expensive undertaking. You have to pay for food, vet bills, grooming services, toys, treats, and more. If you’re financially stable, owning more than one emotional support animal might not be a big deal for you. But it’s important to really think through your financial situation before you decide to own multiple ESAs. If you don’t think you’d be able to easily pay for all of your pets’ expenses, don’t add another one into your home.
Determine whether you can easily care for more than one animal
Taking care of an emotional support animal is a huge responsibility. They’re reliant on you to feed, shelter, and care for them. You also have many daily tasks you need to perform, including taking them for walks or exercise, playing with them, and providing them with affection. It can be a lot for some people to take on, especially if they’re already really struggling with their mental health symptoms. So, before you add another ESA into the mix, think about whether you can physically and emotionally handle caring for more than one animal at a time. You’ll also have to consider whether you’d be comfortable taking all of them out to businesses and retail locations, or with you when you travel. These aspects can be a little stressful with just one ESA – let alone several.
It’s definitely possible for you to own more than one ESA if you think that’s the best option to help you alleviate some of your mental health symptoms. Just remember that it will be critical for you to think through every aspect of owning multiple emotional support animals, including living arrangements and financial costs. If, after contemplating this information, you still think multiple ESAs are right for you, then feel free to move forward with owning more than one emotional support animal.