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Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in Restaurants?

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) provide comfort to those with emotional or mental health conditions, yet their access to restaurants largely depends on state laws and individual establishment policies. Unlike service animals, ESAs aren't granted universal access under the ADA. Before dining out, check with the restaurant—compassion and understanding vary widely. Curious about navigating public spaces with your ESA? Let's explore this together.
Editorial Team
Editorial Team

An emotional support animal is your furry friend that you may have sitting right next to you at this moment. "Emotional support animal" is a way to distinguish a pet from a working animal that aids you during a stressful or high-emotional time. They are considered comfort animals and therapy dogs and are not considered service animals. Service animals perform tasks, while, Emotional support animals are the pets that provide you with love and anxiety relief.

A service dog has been trained to do work or perform tasks to benefit an individual with a disability. At the same time, your ESA is simply a pal you can now take with you whenever you need them there.

Most often, Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals. According to the ADA, they are not considered service animals.

Emotional Support Animals Provide companionship; sometimes, they can help with depression and specific phobias. They are your best bud and will always be by your side when you need them. 

To know if you and your pet qualify, click here to learn how to get an ESA letter.

The Bottom Line

  • Where can I take my emotional support animals? - While service animals can go anywhere, emotional support animals may not be allowed in some places
  • Is my ESA allowed in all public places? - Some may allow them, but some may not. You may be asked to leave your support animal at home or elsewhere, even in restaurants.
  • How can I live with my ESA if my landlord doesn't allow pets? - Housing providers and landlords must allow your emotional support animals, especially if you have an ESA letter signed by a licensed mental health professional.
  • What is an emotional support animal letter? - An ESA letter puts regulations and protections on your support animals for mental illnesses or emotional disabilities.
dog in a restaurant

What are Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals (ESAs) provide comfort and companionship to their owners, as well as mental and emotional support during times of distress and mental or emotional attacks, such as anxiety attacks, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) attacks, and much more. An emotional support animal is any animal that provides emotional support or therapy support.

What are Service Animals?

Service animals are typically dogs individually trained to perform specific tasks related to a person's disability. Service dogs are sometimes called psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) or even assistance animals.

Service and assistance animals perform tasks such as applying deep pressure therapy during a panic or anxiety attack, being a guide dog for a blind person, or even a hearing-ear dog for a Deaf person. The possibility of what a service dog can learn is a broad umbrella.

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals or therapy animals are there only to ease a person's disability purely with their presence. Support animals are mainly there to help individuals with mental and emotional disabilities or with a physical or mental impairment that otherwise can inhibit their ability to live a wholesome life.

Service animals are a typically domesticated animal that is individually trained to aid a person's disability by performing specific tasks. Service animals or psychiatric service animals are typically dogs or even miniature horses. However, an emotional support animal can be any animal, including

  • Cats
  • Lizards
  • Miniature horses
  • Guinea pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Birds
  • Snakes

Where are service animals and support animals allowed in public?

The places, rules, and regulations they are allowed in can vary depending on whether you have an emotional support animal or a service animal.

Service animals are allowed anywhere at any time. Housing providers must make reasonable accommodations for service animals and emotional support animals, especially if a support animal has an ESA letter.

Federal Laws Regarding Emotional Support Animals

There are many laws regarding emotional support animals and their owners, including where they can go and what policies can be changed regarding housing, public places, and travel.

Federal Fair Housing Act

The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects individuals and allows them to have support animals or therapy animals in residential areas that may have a "no-pet" policy. Suppose a mental health professional signs your ESA letter. In that case, according to the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a housing provider is required to make a reasonable accommodation regarding you and your support animal.

The same goes for service animals. A housing provider cannot discriminate against you, your emotional or mental disability, or your service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal Fair Housing Act.

Air Carrier Access Act

Before the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), support and service animals were not allowed to board planes, trains, or any form of public transportation. Once the Act was enacted, airplanes were prohibited from discriminating against individuals due to their emotional or mental disability. Air carriers must make a reasonable accommodation now and allow support animals or service animals, such as a service dogs, to travel with their owners.

Public Access Laws

There are various laws regarding public access to support animals and service animals. Some places can deny support to animals. However, they are not allowed to refuse service animals, such as service dogs, psychiatric service dogs, or any service animal that helps their owners with a physical or mental disability.

An assistance animal is the same as a service animal, as they also help individuals with being able to attend significant life activities while also executing a therapeutic benefit, similar to a support animal.

Support animals can also be called companion animals, depending on your state. State and local laws should be checked before taking your support animal anywhere, including into an urban development or a public place, such as a restaurant.

Can I bring My ESA To Restaurants?

Private properties, such as business establishments, can deny your ESA entry. They may provide reasonable accommodation for your ESA, though.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and The American Disabilities Act (ADA) ensure that you and your ESA are not discriminated against. The FHA protects all species as long as they have a valid ESA Letter. 

If you want your ESA to sit down and enjoy lunch with you, it may be wise to ask the restaurant manager. They may say yes if you ask.

Do not automatically assume it is okay for you to bring your ESA into a restaurant. Most Service dogs are allowed in restaurants because they help people with disabilities, like blindness or hearing disorders.

But that doesn't mean that your ESA won't be allowed. You'll often see a furry friend enjoying lunch with their pet parent.

So be sure to ask and have your ESA letter handy just in case you are asked for it. While restaurant owners and workers cannot ask about your disability or mental health conditions, they are allowed to ask for your ESA letter and must make reasonable accommodations.

Pettable Makes it easy to get an ESA letter. If you are unsure or have questions about your ESA, click here for more information on some of the Best Emotions Support Animal Services.

Where Can't I Bring My ESA?

It is essential to be considerate of guests and business owners whenever you are allowed to bring your ESA with you.

Also, to ensure you can bring your ESA, it may be a good idea and practice to call in advance to let them know you are coming and to make sure it is okay to bring your pet.

Another essential thing to note is your pet should be trained to behave in public. It should be very gentle towards children and people. You know your pet best, so make wise decisions about where you decide to bring it. 

There are limits to where you can bring your ESA, primarily based on the business owner's discretion.

Private business owners are allowed to make their own rules when it comes to Emotional Support Animals.

This is quite understandable because Emotional Support Animals can vary.

The most common, Emotional Support Animals are Dogs. Here is a list of other ESA:

  • Cats
  • Pig
  • Monkeys
  • Duck
  • Turtle
  • Peacock

Sometimes places like hotels and Airbnbs can't accommodate a pet as extravagant as a peacock, so they may not be allowed to stay with you. It is best to check the hotel rules before you bring your pet. An exotic animal may be more challenging to receive reasonable accommodations for. However, it is possible.

How to get an ESA Evaluation Online

Here are the steps to qualify for an Emotional Support Letter and get an ESA evaluation:

  • Click the link here to start your assessment on Pettable
  • Answer the screening questions
  • If you are under the age of 18, a guardian needs to be the point of contact with your mental health professional
  • Take a 3-minute quiz to match you with the right therapist
  • Have your phone consultation with a licensed mental health professional in your state
  • Receive your ESA letter within 24 hours

Pettable promises a Money Back Guarantee of 100% refund.

FAQs About Getting An Emotional Support Letter Online

While having emotional support animals (ESAs) can be vital and essential to your daily life, there can be many questions surrounding them and where you can take them. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding emotional support animals and the rules and regulations.

Is It Hard To Get An Emotional Support Letter?

The process is easy, but you want to ensure you look out for scams.

Pettable has been recommended by Newsweek, Thrillist, ABC News, and CBS. Click here to learn more about getting an ESA letter.

Can I Use My ESA Letter When I Move Into My Apartment?

Once you get a legitimate ESA letter, you can speak with the landlord about bringing your furry friend along with you to your next apartment.

The FHA has made laws, so people can't discriminate against you for having an ESA. Click here for more information.

Can I Get An ESA in Any State?

The Fair Housing Act allows you to use your ESA for housing in every state. This includes Rentals, Co-Ops, And condominiums.

Contact Pettable for your ESA needs.

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Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.