Service Animals are seen everywhere these days and have captured the attention of many, to include the national media. New websites popped up selling official Service Animal certificates, along with collars and jackets that alert all that this is a Service Animal. Most of the media attention focused on air travel and the shocking examples of emotional support animals, like the retired man with his companion alligator named Wally. So when someone forwarded us the below article, we took notice. We have also provided a copy of the Utah article, as well has the actual HUD memo and an article from the National Housing Law project. At a minimum, we suggest you read the HUD memo as this really should be an eye opener for many.
In the US, disabled Americans are granted civil rights protections against discrimination. We are most familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act. I would say that the media and most of the population don’t know the difference. Their just angry that they have to sit next to a dog with a nervous stomach on a long flight. Additionally, ordinary people hear “service animal and to them its synonymous with: emotional support animal, comfort, companion animal, or assistance animal. The Department of Justice define "service animals" narrowly as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The revised regulations specify that "the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition. Thus, trained dogs are the only species of animal that may qualify as service animals under the ADA (there is a separate provision regarding trained miniature horses), and emotional support animals are expressly precluded from qualifying as service animals under the ADA.
An "assistance animal" is not a pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support. Assistance animals do not have to be trained or certified. While dogs are the most common type of assistance animal, other animals can also be assistance animals.
Twenty-five years ago, it was fairly uncommon to have a tenant request such an accommodation at a non-pet rental property. With education and enforcement, this has greatly changed to the explosion that we have seen within the last decade. Way back in the day, property managers used a form which required a physician to attest to the need with some very strong wording about possible consequences if the patient or physician lied. Anyone using that form today would likely experience some unpleasant actions from HUD or one of their Fair Housing Advocates. Today, the general accepted proof of need is from anyone in the know. So that could a parent, counselor, etc. Which obviously leaves the opportunity to misrepresent an actual need.
Full article here: Lying about emotional support animals
HUD- Service Animals
Kristen Curtis, Executive Assistant