One of the biggest questions many people have on their mind is are emotional support animals allowed in restaurants? If you’re still having a tough time getting the right response, you’ve come to the right place. Follow along to find out the answer you’ve been looking for once and for all.
We’ll need to tackle some key points first to properly answer the question are emotional support animals allowed in restaurants. Make sure you read on to find out some pretty interesting things about ESAs as we go along, too.
What are Emotional Support Animals or ESAs?
Emotional support animals or ESAs are more than just pets unlike what a lot of people mistakenly believe. ESAs are basically animals who are given the special task of accompanying people suffering from mental health issues. These issues can range from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.
However, individuals suffering from mental health issues cannot just get a dog or a cat and introduce them as ESAs. He or she must first coordinate with a duly-licensed and qualified mental health professional to have one.
The reason for this is that certain indispensable guidelines need to be established and followed. There are also requirements that have to be met before a person can have an emotional support animal. We’ll get to these in a bit.
An ESA is basically an animal that provides comfort and reassurance through friendship. While they do not undergo specialized training and preparation like service animals, ESAs provide a unique form of companionship. This companionship helps keep their owners feel safe, relaxed and loved.
On the other hand, ESAs also help remind individuals who are suffering from extreme forms of loneliness they’re not alone. And these are just some of the unique benefits that emotional support animals provide.
What are the Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal?
Having an ESA is one of the best decisions that a person suffering from mental health issues will ever make. Apart from providing mental and emotional support, these animals also constantly remind their owners that they are safe and loved.
Here are some more benefits of having an ESA if you’re still finding it tricky to make up your mind:
They help people feel needed.
Some individuals suffering from mental health issues typically feel that they’ve already lost their ability to take care of others. This mindset may have been instigated by a past traumatic experience or some other distressing event.
Having an ESA to take care of helps these people regain their sense of responsibility and attachment. And they’re going to be in for lots of love and affection in the form of hugs and licks, too.
They encourage individuals to move more.
A number of people suffering from mental health problems tend to become very idle and lethargic. They feel that nothing excites them anymore. As a result, these individuals choose to stay in one place and do nothing most of the time.
Having an ESA encourages these persons to become more active because these animals require lots of exercise to stay healthy. Whether it’s a short walk or a quick chase, ESA owners are sure to become quite active in no time.
They help people to socialize.
Persons having mental health issues tend to be quite reclusive. This is because they feel that it’s not worth it to socialize with others anymore. However, they don’t realize that this self-imposed seclusion actually makes their conditions worse sooner or later.
Having an emotional support animal encourages these individuals to go out and interact with others. It’s not uncommon that these people will meet other pet parents and may even strike up a conversation. And nothing beats a fluffy dog or cat as a no-fuss ice breaker.
They help people become more positive.
An individual suffering from trauma tends to dwell more on negativity than the good things in life. This could make it very tough for that person to appreciate the nice things that life has to offer. However, one simple solution to this problem is getting an emotional support animal in the picture.
See, an ESA won’t just provide lots of unconditional love, but also constant gestures of affection. This could be in the form of surprise snuggles, an unexpected kiss, or a simple touch of the paw. Who wouldn’t become more positive after getting in on all of that?
Is a Service Animal and an ESA the Same?
An emotional support animal is totally different from a service animal. The only similarity between these two is that they provide a form of assistance to their owners. However, the assistance that either animal gives is significantly different from that of the other.
A service animal undergoes thorough and special training before he or she can be referred to as such. This training could range from identifying triggers of panic attacks to avoiding obstacles that can hamper their owner’s mobility.
There are even service animals that are trained to “remind” their owners to take their medicines and alert other people during emergency situations like seizures. These trainings vary depending on the needs of the person that they will be assigned to.
In the case of emotional support animals, they do not receive any training or instruction at all. They simply provide plenty of support and companionship to their owners. Sure this may not sound as exciting and significant like that of a service animal’s responsibilities. But the thing is that these are the things people suffering from mental health problems need lots of.
Moreover, service animals are legally covered by the civil rights law called the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This statute is aimed preventing discrimination among disabled individuals and giving them opportunities to live life more comfortably.
On the other hand, the law that covers emotional support animals is the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. This statute is enacted to curb acts of discrimination, including those among people who are suffering from trauma and PTSD.
What Types of Animals Can be Emotional Support Animals?
Dogs are the most common type of emotional support animal. Many consider them as the ideal ESA because they have all the qualities needed by a person suffering from mental issues. They are quick to give hugs. They are quite active and will require regular exercise. If you’re feeling a bit down, an ESA also won’t hesitate to give you a quick kiss.
Cats are also a popular choice for an emotional support animal. These furry creatures may not be as active and affectionate like dogs, but they can still make you feel really loved. Some individuals who have PTSD and trauma share that their ESA cats feel like warm hugs all the time.
What’s really interesting is that there have been a number of more exotic types of emotional support animals recorded worldwide. One’s a turkey. Another is a pot-bellied pig. And another one’s a duck. You can even get a miniature horse as an ESA.
What are the Requirements Needed to Bring Your ESA with You?
A very important thing to remember is there are particular requirements that you have to satisfy before you can have an ESA. One of these requirements is securing an emotional support animal letter.
This ESA letter can be obtained through your licensed and duly-qualified mental health professional. These include primary care physicians, psychologists, mental health nurse practitioners, psychiatrists as well as clinical social workers.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that he or she has to be a licensed and qualified mental health professional to provide an ESA letter. Simply asking for one on your next regular checkup isn;t going to cut it.
An ESA letter is going to be your primary documentation that your mental health condition requires you to have an emotional support animal. This is also going to be asked whenever you’re trying to access public places where emotional support animals are not usually accommodated.
Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in Restaurants?
Thank you for being very patient. We’re now going to answer the question you’ve waited for all this time. So are emotional support animals allowed in restaurants? The answer is it depends on the establishment that you are looking to access.
Unlike their service animal counterparts, ESAs are only allowed in pet-friendly dining places and similar venues. There are some restaurants that do not allow them inside their premises. There are some very simple things you can do ahead to find out if you can bring your ESA to a certain resto, though.
Tips to Check if Your ESA Can Get Inside Your Favorite Restaurant
There will be some dining places that won’t allow your emotional support animal inside their premises. But there will be many dining venues that will welcome your ESA with open arms, too. Here are a few pointers you need to remember to help you determine which is which:
Nothing beats calling up the restaurant beforehand and asking if they allow emotional support animals inside. This will save you a lot of time and money in the process. Simply key in their number, ask the question, and voila! It is as simple as that. Many people who have ESAs share that restaurants having al fresco dining areas usually allow these animals inside.
Browse their website.
Connecting to the Internet is one of the simplest things you can do to check if a restaurant accommodates ESAs. Just use the right keywords on your search bar and the answer will be with you almost instantly.
Things to Keep in Mind When Bringing Your ESA to a Restaurant
Make advanced reservations.
Making your reservations ahead of time helps the restaurant you’re going to with their preparations. This is to prevent any disruptions involving other dine
Keep in mind to schedule your reservation at least two days before so they won’t be rushing with their preparations. The better prepared they will be, the more enjoyable your meal will turn out with your emotional support animal.
Groom your ESA properly before heading there.
Remember to give your ESA a quick bath to avoid unpleasant smells when you get to the restaurant. Besides giving his or her coat a thorough wash, making sure to scrub behind the ears is also important. Putting on a vest or harness on your emotional support animal helps prevent him or her getting too frisky when you’re already inside the restaurant.
Keep him or her leashed.
Regardless of how well-behaved you think your emotional support animal is, it’s smart to keep him or her leashed. This is to prevent any untoward incidents that could take place during your time there. While it’s possible that he or she may meet other ESA’s on the premises, make sure you keep him or her as close to you as possible.
Don’t forget your documentation.
You can think of your ESA letter as your license or passport to bring your emotional support animal inside a certain establishment. Pet-friendly establishments will still ask you to present your ESA letter. This is a requirement that you should not forget. You could be declined access if this is not with you.
Make it a point to have at least two photocopies of your ESA letter so you won’t lose the original one. So be sure not to forget it before heading to the restaurant with your emotional support animal. Remember to bring it with you at all times to avoid awkward situations.
Be very considerate with other diners.
When it comes to emotional support animals, some people won’t be as delighted to meet them. Other diners may not be as excited to meet your emotional support animal. This can be a bit sad, but don’t take it negatively. Some people just are not into cute, cuddly ESAs, which is their loss.
Always remember that your ESA is there to remind you to let go of these negative feelings and enjoy your meal instead.