ESA Information and Resources

Update regarding ESAs for travel: Effective March 1st 2021 Southwest Airlines has joined other major US carriers in banning emotional support animals. A new Department of Transportation regulation went into effect on January 11th, 2021 that says airlines aren't required to treat emotional support animals as service animals. Delta, United, Alaska, JetBlue and American Airlines also no longer allow emotional support animals. The DOT rule defines a service animal as a dog "trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability." 

"Animals that previously traveled as emotional support animals may now travel as carry-on or cargo pets" -American Airlines

Federal ESA Laws and Guidelines

ESA Information for New York

  • Emotional Support Animals in NYC Housing

    • The NYC Human Rights Law protects against disability discrimination in housing, including for people who rely on emotional support animals as a reasonable accommodation for their disabilities.

    • Housing providers, including shelters and other forms of temporary or supportive housing, must permit residents to keep emotional support animals as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, unless it would cause an undue hardship to the housing provider.

    • If a resident’s disability or need for an emotional support animal is not readily apparent to a housing provider, the housing provider may request confirmation from a treatment provider

  • Service Animals - New York State Attorney General

    • **Please note that Emotional Support Animals are NOT service animals, however the definition of service animal is broader under the Fair Housing Act than it is under the ADA. Animals that provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, but may qualify under the Fair Housing Act.​

    • A housing provider may require an individual to provide documentation of their disability and their need for the animal (for example, letters from doctors or therapists describing the disability and explaining how the animal helps the individual).

ESA Information for Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts Fair Housing Law

    • Housing providers:
      • May not charge extra fees to the resident for keeping the animal.

      • May charge the tenant for damages caused by the animal in the same way that it would to any other tenant.

      • May require medical documentation that the animal is needed because of a disability if the disability related need is not obvious or known.

    • ​An individual may be required to provide documentation that the animal is needed due to a disability if the disability-related need is not obvious or known to the housing provider.  No specific certification or registration is required; a note from a doctor, including a licensed psychologist, or other provider that documents the connection between the individual’s disability and the need for the animal may suffice.​

    • Individuals should be wary of entities that claim to provide service or emotional support animal “certification” or “registration” for a fee. Start Line Behavioral Health offers consultations, evaluations and required documentation to prescribe an Emotional Support Animal when appropriate. Start Line Behavioral Health does not offer or endorse any ESA animal certification or registration.