By Elaine S. Povich, Stateline | January 24, 2023
Numerous websites promise to qualify any pet as an emotional support animal that the sites claim can go nearly anywhere — inside restaurants and stores, into “no pets” apartments and throughout college dorms. The easily obtained certificates are making it tough for states to crack down on fake support animals without running afoul of federal fair housing or anti-discrimination laws.
Emotional support animals, which are supposed to help people overcome anxiety or other psychological ills, are different from “service animals,” which are trained to help people with disabilities navigate their surroundings or to warn owners of physical ailments such as low blood sugar.
There are specific criteria for service animals in state or federal law, mostly having to do with training or the performance of specific tasks, and the animals are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Emotional support animals don’t have the same ADA protection.