Do you already own an emotional support animal? Are you thinking that you might like another one – maybe as company for your current pet? Or perhaps you’re just starting to consider getting or registering an ESA and wondering exactly how many emotional support animals you’re allowed to have. If you suffer from a debilitating disorder such as anxiety, autism, or depression, for example, then you would almost certainly qualify for an emotional support animal and you may already be experiencing the benefits of owning one.
Questions often asked are “How many emotional support animals can I have?” and “What are the best emotional support animals?” To answer the latter first, that really depends on your circumstances and personal needs. Dogs and cats are obviously two of the most popular ESAs, but you can definitely think outside the box on this one! And the answer to the first question is… as many as you like, in theory!
So what do you need to know if you want to own more than one emotional support animal? Firstly, you clearly need to qualify for ownership overall in order to receive a legitimate ESA letter for your pet. This can be done via a simple and stress-free assessment with one of our medical specialists. If you think you might want to own more than one ESA, then you can request that your letter covers multiple pet ownership. As an added security, it’s advisable to ask that your specialist outlines the specific support each type of pet would provide for you. Having this in writing could well deflect any problems you may encounter down the line. The Americans with Disabilities Act actually specifies that, in some cases, a person suffering from an emotional disorder may need to own more than one ESA in order for them to receive optimum support and help; so the law is on your side.
While it’s legal for you to own as many emotional support animals as you want, providing you have a valid ESA letter that covers them all, it’s wise to consider both the benefits and the possible complications of having more than one registered ESA. Firstly, as acknowledged above, you may simply want a pair of dogs, cats, rabbits etc. just so that they can keep each other company. This is a good idea if you can’t be with your emotional support animal all the time; at least they won’t get lonely. Two of the same animals can also mean double the fun for you, as well as double the support and love.
Another way of approaching having more than one emotional support animal is to think about having two or more different types of animal. Why not? Providing they get along, of course! You may think that dogs and cats wouldn’t gel too well, but the trick is to get the cat first so that it can establish itself as the boss. It won’t like a dog encroaching on its space at first, but will get used to it – and the dog will soon be put in its place and learn that it has to play second fiddle to the boss! It can be both fun and rewarding owning a dog and a cat. You would get a different kind of support from each of them. An ESA dog will just love you unconditionally; a cat is different, of course, but will be less demanding and quite capable of showing you love if you treat it right.
There are loads of other animal combinations to consider. You may like the thought of a rabbit or a hamster, both of which can be fun pets to own without too much hassle. They can be good company and entertaining in your home. But you might also want a dog that you can take for walks, that will keep you company on journeys, and that can sleep on your bed or in the room with you. There’s no reason why you can’t have both as registered emotional support animals.
Now for the possible problems you might encounter if you own or would like to have multiple emotional support animals. If you’re renting accommodation, then you may already be aware that the Fair Housing Act requires that you are not discriminated against if you have a pet, providing you have a valid ESA letter for said pet. You should not be charged for having an ESA in the rented accommodation and, further, landlords are required to make “reasonable accommodations” for tenants with ESAs so that they live as they choose. However, there is an acknowledgement that having more than one emotional support animal could be an issue, in terms of space, noise, or even hygiene. This is something to think about and to check out with your landlord.
Another area where having multiple emotional support animals would almost certainly be tricky is flying. Most airlines will allow your ESA in the cabin, providing it is well-behaved and doesn’t offend or annoy your fellow passengers. You of course need a legitimate ESA letter, and to alert the airline before flying. But it’s also important to imagine trying to fly with two of anything! It’s double the trouble and, in some cases, double the space, so it’s most likely that the airline would refuse you. These are all factors to keep in mind when considering multiple emotional support animals.
Providing you qualify for ownership of more than one ESA, how many you have and what types they are have really comes down to your own specific circumstances, needs, and a bit of common sense!