As a new school year approaches, you may be wondering, can my child take their emotional support animal to school with them? Or, as a college student, you may be wondering if you can keep yours in your dorm room. Even as a teacher, you may wonder if you can bring yours with you to get you through the stresses of your day. Here is a complete back to school guide for owners of emotional support animals and service animals.
In order to understand when you can and cannot bring your animal, it is important to understand the distinction between emotional support animals and service animals. Emotional support animals are companion animals that provide relief through their presence and comfort to individuals suffering from a variety of conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health conditions. Emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act, meaning that you can live with your emotional support animal anywhere regardless of pet policy or pet fees. You can live with them no matter what, but you cannot take them into public places and when traveling with them the same regulations that apply to pets will apply to them.
Service animals are defined as an animal that is trained to perform a certain task in relation to your mental illness or disability to assist you. Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) meaning they are treated as necessary medical equipment and can be taken almost anywhere with you. You may be able to register your emotional support animal as a psychiatric service dog, as long as it performs a specific task in relation to your mental health condition. This task or tasks could include reminding you to take your medication on time, waking you up from nightmares, or standing on your during panic attacks.
As your child heads back to school, they cannot take their emotional support animal with them to the classroom, but they can take a service dog or psychiatric service dog. The same goes for teachers. If you bring your service dog with you, it may be helpful to explain service dog etiquette to the class, for example that your service dog is working and they shouldn’t pet it or try to play with it.
If you or your student are headed off to college, you should be allowed to live with your emotional support animal in campus housing. However, you cannot take your animal out and about on campus or to class with you. Your service animal on the other hand can live with you and go everywhere you go around campus.
One item that will make the transition back to school with an emotional support animal or service dog is a letter of certification. This letter must be written by a mental health or medical professional verifying your condition and need for the animal. This can be used to verify with the school that you need the animal with you. You can quickly and conveniently get a letter from the experts at United Support Animal. Contact the professionals at United Support Animal at 800-918-3151 or do an online screening today.