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How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in the USA

Animals can lift your spirits; this is an accepted fact. But if you have a mental or emotional disorder, you, like many people, may benefit even more from keeping a critter by your side, as often as possible.

Because pets aren’t always permitted where you live (or want to live), and the cost for your pet to travel on an airplane is costly (up to $150 each way), you can jump through some hoops to qualify your cat, dog, or other pet as an emotional support animal and get some cool benefits. Valid emotional support animals are not considered pets.

Because emotional support animals aren’t considered pets, but instead, assistance animals, they help people have an equal opportunity to enjoy housing and air travel with the dog or cat, and without a fee. That means a landlord or airline cannot restrict an ESA because it is a certain breed or charge fees or deposits in connection with an ESA.

In addition, your emotional support animal may fly with you in the cabin of an aircraft and you can’t be charged a fee. Are you interested in getting an emotional support animal (ESA)? Do you wonder what type of animal can become an ESA? Or are you ready to get an emotional support animal and want to want to know exactly how to do it?

Here is everything you need to know about how to get an emotional support animal in the USA – or make your pet one – and make sure it (and you) gets the special treatment it deserves:

Will Your Pet Qualify?

In a word, yes! All domesticated animals may qualify as an ESA (cats, dog, mice, rabbits, birds, snakes, hedgehogs, rats, mini pigs, ferrets, etc.) and they can be any age (young puppies and kittens, too!). These animals do not need any specific training because their very presence mitigates the symptoms associated with a person’s psychological/emotional disability. The only requirement is that the animal is manageable in public and does not create a nuisance in or around the home setting.

Although any domesticated pet will qualify as an emotional support animal, nearly all airline companies have been allowed by the US Dept. of Transportation to restrict emotional support animals to dogs and cats only. If you don’t plan to travel with your emotional support animal, however, then your hedgehog will qualify. Even if you have a Pitbull and the apartment complex you want to move to bans Pitbull’s, you can’t be denied an apartment because of your Pittie.

If you already have a pet, that pet can serve as your ESA if you qualify for an ESA letter. If you do not have an ESA and are interested in adopting one, we recommend reaching out to your local animal shelter or rescue organization to find your perfect ESA. If you have your heart set on a specific breed that is hard to find in at a shelter or rescue, another option is to reach out to a responsible breeder.

If you don’t have a pet, consider adopting one from your local shelter. Many people find just the right dog or cat … and one that needs a loving home. Owning an emotional support animal is a serious commitment and choosing an ESA with the right temperament and attributes for you and your situation is important. Developing a strong connection with your emotional support animal will help make your ESA more effective in relieving the symptoms of your disability.

Below are three (3) basic steps you should consider to get an emotional support animal.

Here’s How You Qualify

Decide if you can benefit from having an emotional support animal

First, you must decide if you will benefit from having an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals are available to anyone that is suffering from a disability, which can be a mental illness or emotional distress condition. According to federal law, an ESA letter must come from a licensed health care provider, but recognizing that you may have a condition that could benefit from an emotional support animal to minimize the symptoms you are experiencing is the first step.

There are several conditions recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM V) for which an emotional support animal can be beneficial. These include:

  • Learning Disabilities
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Phobias

Get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional

Next, you’ll need an ESA letter from a licensed mental healthcare professional or physician to formalize things and make it legal. If you have severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or another emotional or mental illness, you may be able to have your licensed therapist or family practitioner write you an ESA letter. They’ll also need to be willing to complete3rd party verification forms from airlines (if you plan to fly with your emotional support animal) and property managers (for rental housing).

If you don’t have a therapist or your therapist or family physician is unwilling to write such a letter, you can attain an ESA letter from a licensed therapist online (it’s easy and legitimate) from a reputable company like National Service Animal Registry (NSAR). NSAR is a licensed mental health services agency that specialize in online/telephone disability assessments and offers letters of prescription to clients who qualify. They also register and provide all the accessories that make having an emotional support animal confrontation-free.

Consider registering your ESA and dressing him/her the part.

Although you don’t legally need to register your emotional support animal, carry an ID card, or have your ESA wear a special vest when in public, airline companies strongly encourage it, and those who have lived and travelled with an ESA will tell you that legitimizing your emotional support animal makes life abundantly easier and minimizes confrontation. National Service Animal Registry provides all these services and is the oldest service provider.

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Buying the Best Vests for Your Service Dog

Dogs are humans’ best friends, and they are incredibly intelligent animals that are capable of much more than they often get credit for. Service dogs are the perfect example. Every single day, these smart and well-trained dogs do their duty and keep those who are hard of hearing, visually impaired or otherwise physically or mentally challenged safe and secure. Service dogs go through rigorous training and are held to extremely high standards to ensure they can keep their human companion safe at all times. With that being said, it’s also important that service dogs are given the education and support they need to do their jobs right. This may mean you need to buy a service dog vest to make your service animal clearly identifiable and recognizable. If you’re in the market for a superb service dog vest for sale, here is a very helpful guide to finding the best one for your beautiful dog.

Awesome Applications

When it comes to searching for service dog vests, your first and foremost thought should be how you plan to use this vest. Before you make the decision on which one to purchase, you really need to think about your plans for the vest and your service animal. This will help you determine which vest features are crucial and which ones you can live without. The majority of dog vests have Velcro for easy fastening and an easy-to-see sign. Plus, the majority of these vests are made from nylon, and the visible signs identifying the presence of a service dog are key. There’s plenty of benefits associated with using service dog vests, particularly with dogs of a smaller size that may not be able to properly wear a collar without hurting their throat. It’s also great to use service dog vests for walking your dog, as you can easily clip the leash on the back of the vest to avoid twisting and tangling. Keep in mind that this may be difficult with larger or more aggressive dogs. Thinking about these features will help you make the right choice when you buy a service dog vest online, whether that be added weight or clear signage. You don’t really want to settle for a so-so service dog vest that doesn’t truly meet your needs — instead you want to find something that stands out in the best way possible.

Comfort and Weight Training

There’s such a versatile variety of service dog vests on the market today! These accessories have become the most well-known symbols for service animals. After all, these vests are an extremely effective training tool, especially when you consider the weight training ones that help to build muscle definition and increase their weight. If you can find a weight training service dog vest that suits your budget and will help with your training exercises, then you’ll be good to go. The same thing goes for a comfortable, well-fitting service dog vest online. Every dog is wonderfully different, and what may fit well and seem comfortable for one dog may not be the same for another canine. You want to keep them feeling cool and comfortable so they can focus on their service dog duties!

Aesthetic Appeal

You also want to consider the overall look of the service dog vest. This is a fun opportunity for you to choose the colors and designs that match up with your personal preferences and your dog’s personality. If you can find one that comes with saddlebags, a complete service harness and loops for your leash, along with highly visible colors, you should put that on the top of your list. The brighter the color, the easier your dog will be to see from a distance and the safer they will be along busy roads with traffic. Of course, the trick is finding which features you can’t live without and how much you’re willing to spend to get those features. There’s fantastic value out there to be found in service dog vests, especially with how much use you’ll get out of these accessories.

If you’re interested in finding the best service dog vests for your precious pooch, visit National Service Animal Registry for an awesome selection at affordable prices.

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Vegetables Your Service Dog Can and Can’t Eat?

When you have a best friend who is also a furry, four legged service dog with a happy grin and a wagging tail, it is only natural to want to share a plate. It’s fun to share food—it’s a major part of human culture and one of the ways in which we connect with one another. But…dogs are canines, not homo sapiens (hard to remember, I know) and thus, have not only different nutritional requirements, but also different digestive abilities.

To reassure you, before we go any further, it is absolutely Ok to share food with your service dog, just not everything, and certainly not in the same quantities.

While your service dog is an omnivore, meaning they can eat a range of meat and plant based foods, our sweet domestic version of the species is not always quite so strictly in touch with their instincts that they will know to avoid potentially toxic foods. In fact, dogs are notorious for eating just about anything put in front of them, including things like chocolate, which are quite toxic, as well as over eating until they make themselves sick. To be fair, it is a dog’s instinct to overeat, seeing as how in the wild their ancestors (and current relatives, such as the wolf) would gorge themselves on the kill, uncertain when the next meal would arrive.

Since your service dog will not necessarily be a good judge of what is appropriate and safe to eat, it is up to you, as a devoted companion to your furry friend, to take on the responsibility of being informed about the various foods we eat and whether they are safe for sharing with our pups.

This article will focus on vegetables in particular. Are vegetables good for your service dog? Are vegetables harmful to your service dog? When is it appropriate to feed your service dog veggies, and how should you prepare them? And how much? Keep reading, as we delve into these questions.

Doggie Digestive Systems: Carnivore or Omnivore?

Are dogs carnivores (strictly meat eaters) or omnivores (capable of eating meat and vegetables, like humans, and raccoons)? This is actually a bigger debate than you might guess. While dogs seem to be made physiologically to be carnivores, they are classified as omnivores because they can (and do) eat plant materials, including fruits and vegetables. In fact, eating strictly meat will make your service dog sick over the long run, as he will be missing essential nutrients.

Still, dog bodies are optimized for meat, with the pointy teeth of a true carnivore and a digestive system emphasizing strong stomach acid (to kill bacteria of decaying meat), a lack of amylase in the saliva (necessary for the breakdown of starch), an extra large stomach (in order to contain all the meat from those gorging fests) and an overall shorter digestive tract than herbivores or even full on omnivores (like humans) who need a longer tract to breakdown and absorb plant material.

On the other hand, your service dog is an incredibly adaptive animal and are capable of processing a wide range of foods for its nutritional content. Indeed, since hounds joined the human race as one of our specie’s favorite allies some 15,000 years ago, they have certainly proved themselves capable of surviving off a wide range of foods, indicating a more omnivorous habit. Unlike cats, for instance, who really cannot process most vegetables and will not survive without a high meat diet, dogs have proved that they can (and will) eat and digest vegetables. Dogs do not, however, need vegetables to survive. That is, they do not need vegetables in the way we do—but they do need plant material.

The diet of your service dog’s ancestors included eating the stomach contents of their prey: herbivores, who were chock full of plant material—mainly grasses. Canines are also scavengers, meaning they can both eat and receive good nutrients from eating rotting vegetables, carcasses and even (though a little disgustingly) poop.

A good idea, in light of this information, would be to focus the bulk of the diet on animal protein, but incorporate vegetables and other foods as more supplemental bits. The best vegetables will be leafy greens, since they are most similar to the grasses a dog would eat in the wild. However, other vegetables, offered in moderation, can be good too. We’ll discuss more specifics below.

What Nutritional Value Do Vegetables Have (For a Dog)?

Vegetables provide a wide range of minerals and vitamins. They also provide wonderful fiber, which can improve digestion (or, conversely, hamper digestion, causing diarrhea if overdone).

Every vegetable will of course have a different make up of vitamins and minerals. Some of the essential vitamins and minerals required by the canine and which can be found in varying degrees in a given vegetable include: B Vitamins, Calcium, Chlorine, Choline, Copper, Folic acid, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Riboflavin, Selenium, Sodium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Zinc.

How to Introduce and Prepare Vegetables for Your Service Dog

So, now that we know your service dog can eat vegetables, how do we actually feed these healthy veggies to our puppy dogs? Can you just put a pile of well-seasoned and prepared veg on a plate for your service dog’s dinner? Or toss him a raw salad?

The answer is no. It’s not quite that simple. Your service dog can eat vegetables, but there are ways to make it easier for him/her to digest and assimilate the nutrients.

Dogs take a while to adjust to any new food. In fact, when introducing a new food, it is not uncommon for a dog to get diarrhea, not necessarily because the food is inherently bad for him, but because his body does not recognize it. It takes time for the body to learn what a food is, and how to break it down and use it to build cells.

This is why it is a good idea to begin small: Try giving your service dog just a bite or two of that zucchini, and increase over time, watching to see his reaction. Give his body time to adjust to this foreign experience, because one thing for certain, if your service dog likes the zucchini, she will not be moderating herself.

Another reason starting slow is a good idea, is that it will allow you to watch your service dog for an actual allergy. Dogs, like humans, sometimes just have a bad reaction to a specific food. While a little diarrhea is normal when introducing a new food, if it sustained and/or in combination with other symptoms such as lethargy or puking, call your veterinarian (and it goes without saying, STOP giving the problem food to the poor pooch!).

Another way to both ease the transition for your service dog into eating vegetables, and to assure the highest rate of digestion and absorption of the veggie, is in a mindful preparation. While dogs can handle some raw vegetables, their digestive systems are not as efficient at processing raw foods as humans (due to the shorter, carnivorous digestive tract).

There are lots of ways you can prepare the food for optimal digestion insuring your service dog gets all the nutrients it can out of the veggies. You can boil, steam, bake, grill or roast the fine veggies for your grateful service dog. Or, you could even leave it raw, but puree it, so the smaller bits will be easier to assimilate into the canine body.

Yet another good reason to cut the veggies into small pieces or cook them ahead of time, is because your service dog’s jaws and teeth are not ideally suited for chewing: their jaw only moves up and down, unlike a human (or herbivore) jaw, which moves side to side while chewing. They also have less molars. This means that dogs tend to swallow quickly—which can potentially lead to choking, especially with hard vegetables.

As for seasoning, salt is unnecessary. In fact, it can even be dangerous, leading to sodium ion poisoning. This is also why it’s a good idea to avoid pickled veggies as well, since they tend to be very high in sodium. Your service dog gets all the salt he/she needs from natural sources and are sensitive to excessive intake of this mineral.

If you really want to exercise your culinary genius for your beloved service dog, it is ok (and even beneficial) to add some more neutral herbs, such as rosemary or parsley. Think culinary herbs here, and as always, be sure to check that they are safe before tossing them into the dish.

And if you find you really enjoy preparing your service dog’s veggie snacks, you can even take it a step further by making your own dog food with a combination of proteins, vegetables and grains!

Vegetables to AVOID!

The list of vegetables to avoid is actually not so extensive. The main thing with veggies is that dogs don’t need that many of them—and they will get sick if fed a particular veggie in too great of portions or too often. If you regulate how much veggies your hound is getting, she should be just fine. The truly toxic veggies are few, and even they would need to be eaten in a large quantity to really cause damage.

Onion

This root vegetable of the alium family is dangerous to dogs in large quantities because of a constituent found in it called thiosulphate. Terrifyingly, because dogs lack the enzyme necessary to digest this chemical, it becomes toxic in their bodies and can cause the rupture of red blood cells, known as hemolytic anemia.

Don’t panic if your service dog gets a hold of a slice of pizza with onions on it. While you definitely do not want to intentionally be feeding him onions, a few here and there will not cause great damage. However, a cumulative effect—that is, eating a little bit of onion on a regular basis over a long time—can have quite serious consequences.

Some breeds are more sensitive than others, but it’s a good idea to avoid onions altogether just to be safe. And that includes powdered onions! Many seasoning include powdered onion, so keep this in mind when feeding Fido table scraps.

Other members of the Alium family such as chives, leeks and garlic also contain this ingredient, so best to avoid them in big quantities as well.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb contains oxalates, which are salts which can bind with the bodies calcium, causing a calcium deficiency. The stem is actually Ok to eat, as it contains such a small amount of oxalates. The leaves, however, contain toxic levels of oxalates if enough is consumed. Symptoms can include drooling, diarrhea, tremors and lethargy.

Avocado

Technically a fruit, Avocados contain persin, which is actually considered only mildly toxic to dogs, if at all. It has gotten a bad rap due to the poisoning effects it has on other animals, such as birds and cattle (so if you have a canary or a cow, do not feed it avocado…but your service dog will probably be fine, if you follow the outline above and introduce it slowly, observing the response).

Vegetables for You and Your Service dog to EMBRACE!

Luckily, as evidenced by the very few harmful veggies for dogs, most vegetables are fair game for you hound, when given in moderation and prepared in the correct way. And that is great news, because vegetables are often a healthier alternative to commercial treats which contain additives and chemicals.

Here’s a list of some of the popular vegetables to feed dogs (though far from exhaustive), and why they are good, along with any stipulations in the preparation.

Broccoli

Broccoli is great, but only in small quantities—it contains isothiocyanates, which can cause stomach upset, so feed in moderation.

Carrots

Especially noted for their high beta carotene and Vitamin A content (essential for healthy bones and immune system, among other things), carrots are also excellent for cleaning tartar off dog teeth!

Celery

Celery is high in fiber, Vitamins A, B and C as well as plethora of minerals. It is great for your dogs heart and also contains Apigenin, which is a cancer fighting compound. While high in salt (meaning, like the rest of the veggies, only serve in moderation!), celery is known to freshens a dog’s breath.

Corn

Corn, in the form of corn starch, is actually one of the primary ingredients in mainstream dog food. Corn is a source of proteins, carbohydrates, antioxidants and linoleic acis. Corn is great, just be sure not to give it to your service dog on the cob! This is unfortunate, since it seems like corn on the cob would make such a great chew toy! However, the inedible cob can actually rip up your service dog’s digestive system, causing major damage. On the flipside, popcorn is ok! (so long as it’s plain without butter and salt).

Cucumber

Cucumbers are so full of water and minerals that they are quite hydrating, among other things. While the skin is the most healthy part, it is unfortunately also the most challenging to digest. Peel it before feeding your service dog to avoid stomach upset.

Greenbeans

A great, snappy treat, greenbeans contain vitamin C, K and manganese.

Potatoes

High in iron, potatoes are great for dogs, so long as they are cooked (either boiled or baked, without seasoning).

Sweet Potatoes

Full of beta carotene, potassium, vitamin B6 and C, sweet potatoes are also great for your service dog’s fur coat and skin.

There are literally dozens of other vegetables out there: root veggies such as beets, squashes, pumpkins, cauliflower, zucchini and various greens, such as kale. The main thing to keep in mind when considering a new vegetable for your service dog, is to introduce it slowly. And it is always a good idea to look up each new vegetable, just to be sure it’s safe and to check on the specifics.

Conclusion:

There are lots of good reasons to incorporate vegetables into your service dog’s diet. Feeding your service dog vegetables can be a great low carb alternative to doggie treats, offering her baby carrots or slices of cucumber. It can also be fun to share your food with your pup. If you’re cooking dinner, for instance, and chopping veggies—perhaps you want to share the experience with Rex by tossing him a bit of zucchini. Veggies can also offer dogs important vitamins and minerals. Just remember that your service dog’s diet should really be based around protein. Celebrate vegetables and experiment with the safe food options for your pet, just remember to keep your hound’s diet balanced.

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How Much Does a Service Dog Cost: A Buyer’s Guide for Your Service Dog

For many people with disabilities, service dogs are absolutely essential. These animals make everyday life more manageable and enjoyable. However, because of their high costs, getting a service dog can be a daunting and stressful task. With adoption costs, training, vet trips, and more, obtaining and caring for a service animal can cost thousands every year. Read this guide to learn about all the expenses associated with owning a service dog and how you can pay for yours.

Already-Trained Service Dog Costs

Though the specific amount will depend on the breed of dog and the type of training it gets, you can expect to buy a service dog for between $15,000 and $30,000 upfront. Some service dogs can cost as much as $50,000. Along with these initial costs, many pet owners spend between $500 and $10,000 every year caring for their dog. These yearly expenses cover things like food, veterinary checkups, vaccinations, toys, and additional training.

Why Are the Initial Costs so High?

Service dogs require much more training than other dogs do. This extensive training and additional care usually take place during the first few months of their lives. The amount you pay goes toward adoption costs, puppy vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and trainer’s fees. You can cut down on the initial costs significantly by training the dog on your own or with assistance from a certified dog trainer. Though it costs less in the short-term, this method usually takes longer and may actually end up costing more in the long-term.

Costs to Train Your Dog to Be a Service Animal

If you already have a dog that you want to train to become a service animal, you may be able to save some money on the initial costs. The amount this route will cost depends on your dog, how much it already knows, the specific tasks it must learn, the trainer’s fees, and how much time the trainer can dedicate to your dog. If your dog has already received some obedience training, it can take between four and six months to train them for a task service. The precise amount of time it will take depends on the task your pup must learn and the pup’s aptitude. Additionally, service dogs are expected to be able to perform these tasks in a number of different environments. A lot of dogs can take up to two years to become fully trained for public access. The hourly fees professional dog trainers charge varies greatly from region to region, though you can expect to pay around $150-250 per hour. These expenses can also add up very quickly.

How to Pay for a Service Animal

There are a few different ways you can raise the money to pay for your service animal. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Use a nonprofit grant. There are many organizations like Service Dogs for America and Assistance Dogs International that are dedicated to helping people with disabilities find service dogs for little or no fee.
  • Build up your savings. Though this is easier said than done, it is much easier to buy a service dog if you have a little extra savings in the bank.
  • Take out a loan. If you are unable to get help from a nonprofit, you can try to take out a personal loan to cover the costs of the service animal.

Contact us at the National Service Animal Registry for more important information about service dogs.

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Chicago, IL: A Great Place to Visit with Your Service Dog

Chicago, sometimes known as the “Windy City” is a busy metropolis full of skyscrapers, great food, and even better music. It’s the third most populous city in the United States, and has a wide selection of dog friendly locations you can bring your pet or emotional support animal.

If you own a service dog, you already know your dog is welcome anywhere, but there are several places around Chicago your service dog will enjoy for a little off duty fun, or that provide important care your animal needs to keep working for you. Here are our favorite spots in Chicago for your dog.

Places to eat

Taking your service dog to a restaurant is part of the job, but if you have an emotional support animal its usually barred from restaurants. Fortunately, there are dozens of dog friendly restaurants in Chicago. These are our favorites.

Harry Caray’s Tavern

Enjoy a spectacular view of the waterfront while sitting down with your service dog for a great meal. Harry Carays at 600 E Grand Ave, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL, US, 60611 has a dog friendly patio you can enjoy the meal on, while also bringing along an emotional support animal or other pet for the meal.

They have great food as well as a spectacular meal, including vegan options such as the Beyond Burger if you have dietary restrictions.

Big Stars

If you’re craving tacos, you’ll love Big Stars at 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL, US, 60622. Big Stars features incredible Mexican food, and are most famous for their taco slinging skills. The Wicker park location is especially interesting because of its unique building…it was converted into a restaurant from a 1940’s gas station.

Which ever location you choose, dogs are welcome on their patio, and are well liked at Big Stars.

Take your dog to a four paws up hotel

Whether your dog is a service dog or an emotional support animal, he will love the Hotel EMC2, Autograph. This trendy hotel has no green space on the premises, but there is a dog park available just 3 blocks away!

The hotel itself allows dogs to be left unattended and unkenneled in the hotel room with a signed waiver, and does not charge an additional fee for large dogs. Beds, bowls and treats are available at the front desk for the use of your dog during his stay. See it for yourself at 228 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611.

Stay at a pet friendly apartment

Service dogs and emotional support animals can’t be kept out of apartment buildings, but there are perks to staying in a dog friendly apartment, such as an abundance of green space and the ability to keep a non-working pet.

The Morgan at Loyola station allows up to two pets, and takes dogs up to 50 pounds. They are conveniently located close to the downtown area, and has an abundance of outdoor space including lake access, as well as plenty of amenities for you as well. Enjoy a fitness center, bike storage, club house, and 24 hour maintenance should something break in your home. Check it out at 1209 W Arthur Ave, Chicago, IL 60626.

Keep your service dog healthy with a vet trip

You depend on your service dog for your independence, so making sure he stays fit and healthy is critical to both your well being and his. West Wrigley Animal Hospital at 3416 N. Ashland Ave. Chicago, IL 60657 is a reliable source for vet care. They offer veterinary treatments for all life stages, and have a state-of-the-art hospital with an in-house diagnostic lab for quick results.

If your service dog or emotional support animal should need veterinary care while in Chicago, this vet should be your first call.

Jackson Bark

Your service dog or emotional support animal is used to accompanying you, and chances are he’s seen a lot of dog parks. If you want to take him to one that’s unique for some off-duty fun, Jackson Bark is the place for you. This dog park features agility equipment to train on and get excess energy out on, and people who have visited report safety features and other amenities such as poop bags. Check it out at 5800 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL, US, 60637.

Take your service dog on his own canine cruise

One of the most popular venues for dog lovers in the Mercury Canine Cruises at Michigan Ave. & Wacker Dr. in Chicago, IL 60601. These cruises are designed especially for your furry friend, so you can rest assured your hard working service dog or beloved emotional support animal will have a good time on this trip.

You can listen to a history of the city as you admire its beauty from comfortable outdoor seating, and there are doggie amenities such as a paper-lined bathroom and dog bowls available for your dog. Your service dog will love this trip, and so will you!

Take your dog on a hike

There are lots of fun places to hike in and near Chicago, and your dog is welcome to join you on some of them. The Valley Line Trail is one such trail both you and your service dog will enjoy. It was made along the path of an old railway, and is currently maintained by the Rails to Trails Conservancy. Just 20 minutes from down town, you can access one of the trail heads at 4400 W. Devon Ave. Chicago, IL 60646.

Chicago is a large city filled with dog friendly places you can go with your dog. Where your four legged friend is a hard working animal, a retiree, or just a pet, there are plenty of things you can see and do around the Chicago area.

If you’ve been thinking about visiting, don’t be afraid to bring your dog along with you to the Windy City. You will love it, and he will too.

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Seattle, WA: A Great Place to Visit with Your Service Dog

Seattle is a thriving metropolis known for the Space Needle, fabulous whale watching opportunities, and how dog-friendly it is. If you are a dog lover yourself or need a service dog or emotional support dog to get around, you’ll love Seattle, Washington. Seattle was even named the most dog-friendly city in the world because of the many opportunities available in it.

Dog friendly lodging

If you’re planning on just a short visit, one of the best places to stay is the Belltown Inn. This dog-friendly inn is centrally located in the heart of Seattle, making it a convenient location for checking out all the sights and sounds.

It has received several awards for being environmentally friendly and for its excellent ratings with customers. Housekeeping will not visit if the dog is left unattended, so be prepared if you want housekeeping while you have your emotional support dog or service dog staying with you.

Staying a while?

If you’re planning to move to Seattle, Cyrene Apartments is a dog friendly apartment located within blocks of the waterfront. You’ll be able to visit the Seattle Aquarium and the Waterfront with just a quick stretch of the legs. Seattle Aquarium welcomes service dogs in all public areas and is wheelchair accessible. Some breed restrictions for Cyrene Apartments do apply for non-assistance animals, but there is no weight limit to the size of the dog. You can see it for yourself at 50 University St.

Take your ESA with you to dine out

If you want to grab your morning cup of coffee on the go, and take your emotional support dog with you, Bark! Espresso is one of the most dog-friendly cafes you can ask for. It has a completely separate area for dogs, and you can even treat your ESA to a doggie latte while you grab a real one for yourself. Bark! Espresso is located at 11335 Roosevelt Way NE.

If you’re hoping for a sit-down dinner you can bring your emotional support dog to, Norm’s Eatery and Ale House is the place to go. All dogs are welcome inside the building so long as they follow the rules. The dog must be on leash, cannot eat off the table or plates, and must not bark while inside. If he can follow these rules, he can come in while you dine! Enjoy a great meal at 460 N 36th St, Seattle, WA 98103.

There are many eateries that welcome pets in Seattle, so if you’re hoping to bring along your ESA, chances are there will be a place close to you that allows it.

Take your puppy to the beach

Not a lot of off-leash dog parks can boast beach access, but Warren G. Magnuson Park off-leash area can. In fact, it’s the only park in Seattle that does. This 8.6 acre park is part of a larger, 350 acre park in the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle, and the off-leash park is alongside Lake Washington, giving your dog plenty of opportunities for fresh water fun.

There are also a multitude of trails to walk your service dog or ESA along, and many of these trails are wheelchair accessible. It’s a great opportunity for everyone, and easily the best dog park in Seattle. The park is located at 7400 Sand Point Way NE.

Visit an outdoor market

The Fremont Sunday Market is a beautiful outdoor market open year-round. The market is located at 3410 Evanston Ave North and is dog friendly. They ask that your dog be kept on a short leash for the safety of patrons as well as your service dog, ESA, or other pet. Click Here to check out National Service Animal Registry’s 4 foot leashes, perfect for this scenario.

You can find all sorts of things at the outdoor market, from handmade leather satchels to treats to give your service dog or emotional support dog as a reward for a job well done.

Bark at the Park

While your service dog is always welcome at baseball games, you may enjoy taking him to one specifically geared towards dogs. “Bark at the Park” is a baseball game where dog lovers can take their pets for a fun filled day of events, free goodie bags from vendors, and of course a baseball game.

Whether a licensed assistance animal or just a pet, he may have never been to a baseball game. This is your chance to let him experience the full fun of this event and watch a great game too.

Need a vet?

Whether your dog is a service dog, an emotional support dog, or your very best friend in life, good veterinary care is vital to their health. In the case of a service dog or an emotional support dog, your dog plays a vital role in your level of independence, and your emotional health as well, making it critical for both you and your pet that he remain healthy.

That means knowing the best local vets in case your dog gets sick or injured while you are in Seattle. If you’re looking for the very best care for your dog, consider Lien Animal Clinic. With over 300 5 star reviews, and prompt attention to those who do have a problem, you know you’ll be treated well when you take your furry companion to this clinic.

Rex Seattle

Service dogs work hard, and sometimes they deserve a little pampering too. Rex Seattle has everything you need to take care of your dog while you are in Seattle. Located at 1402 12th Avenue, you’ll find grooming, a self-dog wash, and select products as well as a caring staff.

Seattle is a great place for dog lovers. If you have a assistance dog and depend on your dog for your own wellbeing, you can rest assured that there are plenty of places you can keep your dog in tip top shape while you are enjoying this big city.

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Are Landlords Able to Deny an ESA?

If you have an emotional support animal, you may be under the impression that you can take them everywhere. That’s one of the principal advantages of obtaining your emotional support dog registration in the first place – helping you identify your animal to the public. If you get anxious in crowds or tend to feel isolated and insecure when you’re in unfamiliar environments, having an ESA can help settle your nerves and ease your anxiety. What if you’re moving to a new place? If you’re considering renting a new apartment, is your landlord required to accept your emotional support animal when you move in? Here’s what you should know regarding landlords and your rights to an ESA.

Protection from No Pets Policies

Landlords are allowed to restrict their tenants from having pets. It’s common for them to place restrictions so that pets are prohibited, or they limit the kinds of animals permitted based on species, breed, or size. Emotional support animals, however, aren’t considered pets. They provide necessary assistance to people with physical or mental disabilities, so they must be allowed in all apartments under federal fair housing laws.

Federal Fair Housing Act

It’s a violation of federal law to discriminate against people with disabilities. People who require the services of an ESA are considered disabled and are, therefore, protected. This means that the landlord must make reasonable accommodations for the disabled individual. Among these reasonable accommodations is allowing the tenant to have an emotional support animal. ESAs are usually dogs, but the landlord must permit dogs, cats, or any other animal who has ESA certification.

Questions You Can Expect from a Landlord

If you intend to move into an apartment with your ESA, and that apartment doesn’t usually allow pets, you can anticipate that the landlord will challenge you on the necessity of having an ESA. While the law doesn’t require you to show or explain your disability, landlords are allowed to ask for proof that a disability exists. Make sure you have an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional explaining that you need your emotional support animal.

If you don’t have a therapist or your therapist is unwilling to write an animal emotional support letter, National Service Animal Registry (NSAR) offers a NO-RISK [emotional support animal letter](/esa-letter.html) assessment. National Service Animal Registry is the original and most trusted and referred online provider of ESA prescription letters in the United States, equipped with an extensive network of experienced licensed therapists across the nation who specialize in ESA assessments.

The landlord may want to know in what way the ESA assists you with your disability, but the letter is all you need to show them. Once you’ve proven to the landlord that you have a mental illness and that your ESA is necessary, then the landlord must permit your emotional support animal as part of the rental agreement. You can expect to follow the same process if you get an ESA after you’ve already moved into an apartment. Just because you get an emotional support animal after you’ve lived in an apartment is no reason for a landlord to evict you due to a no pets policy. Simply show them your ESA letter, and they’re required by law to accept your emotional support animal.

If you don’t have an ESA yet, but wish to get one or have your current pet registered as an ESA, contact the National Service Animal Registry. We register emotional support dogs for people just like you so you can get the valuable assistance and support that only ESAs can provide.

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Emotional Support Animals and Michigan Law

In March 2020, a bill was passed in The Michigan House that has made the laws around registering an Emotional Service Animals more restrictive.

Currently, the laws governing Emotional Support Animals are open to abuse by some people who falsely register their pets. Some scammers capitalize on privileges enjoyed by people who have Emotional Support Animals, such as free air travel for their animal or to be able to live with them in an apartment building or house where animals are usually not allowed.

Most advocacy groups welcome a discussion about tightening the law to prevent these abuses. But does this law go too far? Will it adversely affect people who genuinely depend on their Emotional Support Animal?

In this post, we’ll examine the changes in the law and both sides of the argument. Is the Misrepresentation of Emotional Support Animals Act a positive or negative development? Let’s find out.

The Law

First of all, what are the changes that have been introduced by House Bill 4910, and what do they mean for people who genuinely need their Emotional Support Animal?

First, this law has made it illegal for people to misrepresent themselves as a person with a disability, or their pet as an Emotional Support Animal.

It is also now lawful for housing providers to require documentation from the applicant’s healthcare provider in order to validate that they need an Emotional Support Animal. This healthcare provider must have treated the person in the last 6 months and provide a notarized letter to prove it.

In another departure from the current law, the authorizing healthcare provider has to be registered by the State of Michigan, or the state where the person has lived in the last 180 days. In addition, the healthcare provider must have registered business premises – a move that prevents people from acquiring online certifications from providers who don’t have a physical office.

If anyone is caught breaking this law they could be required to pay up to $500 in fines and 90 days in prison or 30 days community service. Housing providers who find their tenants have abused the system will lawfully be able to terminate their lease and evict them.

Service Animals

Service Animals are not affected by these changes in the law.

In the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Service Animals are defined as animals that have been trained to do specific tasks for someone with a disability. Even though Emotional Support Animals are often used as therapy animals for people with disabilities, they are not considered Service Animals by the ADA.

In Michigan, animals are not allowed to be registered as Service Animals based on a claim that they provide emotional support.

Abuse Of The Law

Currently, the main requirement in order to register a pet as an Emotional Support Animal in Michigan is to provide a therapist’s letter confirming that the person has a disability and requires an animal for psychological support.

This system is open to abuse as some people get their letter from a dubious website broker who acquires letters from clinicians based on rudimentary telephone consultations or answers provided in a questionnaire. These sites also sometimes misrepresent their sales of merchandise such as support vests and tags which they suggest are mandatory, when in fact, they are often not required in law.

Abuse of the system has a number of effects. There have been reports of fake Emotional Support Animals causing a public disturbance or even harming members of the public.

Abuses such as these also make life more difficult for people who genuinely rely on their Emotional Support Animals, as they can undermine the public’s belief in the system and make all Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals the subject of suspicion.

The increase in the number of fake Emotional Support Animals has also led to some service providers such as airlines and taxis clamping down and tightening their rules. This can make it more difficult for people with a genuine need for an Emotional Support Animals to use the service. These restrictions can greatly impact the lives of people who often already have difficulty with day to day life.

Is The New Law Too Restrictive?

While we fully support tightening the law to crack down on people who abuse the system by having their pet falsely prescribed as an Emotional Support Animal, we are concerned that this change in the law will make it more difficult for people who genuinely depend on their ESA in order to go about their day to day life.

We are particularly concerned that people who require their ESA for psychological support will find it too difficult to use public transport, taxis or fly, and that they might face eviction from their homes.

It remains to be seen what the effects of these changes in the law will be. We’ll be keeping our eye on the situation, and will be sure to keep you informed. In the meantime, if you want or need to register your emotional support animal or service dog, National Service Animal Registry can help. They have the answers and services you need.

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High-Quality Service Dog Leashes for Your Furry Friend

Though they may have a similar function, not all dog leashes are created equally. Leashes are meant to keep your pup safe and under control while in public. However, if your leash is not suited for your dog’s breed and temperament, the leash won’t be able to do what it is meant to do. Having the right, high-quality leash is even more important when you have a service animal, since they will be spending a lot of time in public areas with other people and pets. To learn more about selecting the best leash for your emotional support animal, keep reading below!

Leash Styles

First, consider the style of leash you want to purchase. You will need to choose between standard leashes and retractable ones. Retractable leashes may seem like a good choice at first, but most pet owners quickly realize their downfalls. They offer limited control over your pet and can break easily if you do not purchase the right size. For most dogs, a standard leash is the best choice. This is especially true if you are shopping for a service dog leash. These are the leashes that likely come to mind first when you picture a dog leash. They’re made of a single piece of material and can range from four to ten feet long.

Materials

Dog leashes are available in a range of materials including nylon, polyester, rubber, cotton, leather, and chain. For most service animals, you will want to choose a leash that is made of polyester or nylon. These two materials are among the most popular, mainly because they are both durable and inexpensive. These leashes are built to withstand all sorts of weather and environments, too.

Since these fibers are human-made, they are available in a wide selection of colors and patterns. There are even some that say “ESA” right on them (more on that later), which helps to immediately identify your pet as a service animal. Nylon and polyester leashes can be purchased at most pet stores and online retailers, which means you can easily find one when you are ready to buy your new leash.

Length

Once you have chosen the material and style of the leash, you can settle on a length. Most leashes are either four or six feet long, while some measure up to ten feet long — though these are mainly used for training purposes. For your everyday leash, look for something that is either six or four feet in length.

Six-foot leashes are the most common. They offer your dog some space to roam and explore without leaving too much slack to drag on the ground or get wrapped around their feet. Shorter, four-foot leashes are ideal for busy city streets and other high-traffic areas. They prevent your service pup from wandering too far from you and lower the chances of getting tangled around poles and other dogs’ leashes.

Width

Leashes are also available in a few different widths. Thicker leashes are better for strong pullers, chewers, and larger dogs. These leashes offer more strength and are less likely to break when put under pressure. Thinner leashes, on the other hand, are good for small dogs and puppies since they are less restrictive and a lot lighter. If you have a puppy that you’re training to be a service pet, you may need to switch to a thicker one when they get older depending on their breed and personality.

Purchase a Service Animal Leash

You may also want to consider purchasing a dog leash that is explicitly made for service animals. These polyester leashes come in a range of lengths and are marked “ESA” along the length of the leash. This helps to let everyone know that you have a service animal so you can avoid confusion when you bring your pet into public places.

Be sure to visit us at the National Service Animal Registry to view our whole selection of emotional support animal leashes!

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Austin, TX: A Great Place to Visit with Your Service Dog

Texas is a huge state, and experiencing it is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life. Austin is the capital of Texas and has a surprising amount to offer dog lovers who visit there. If you depend on a service dog to help keep you mobile, or you have an emotional support animal you enjoy keeping with you to support your needs, Austin has many locations you can take your dog.

Here are just a few of our favorite locations for you and your dog.

Stay at a dog friendly hotel

There are a number of pet friendly hotels in Austin but finding one that has appropriate places to potty your dog can be tricky. Many locations are completely concreted in, which can result in an uncomfortable experience when it’s time to take your emotional support animal or loyal service dog to do his business.

Luckily, the Staybridge Suites Austin Arboretum at 10201 Stonelake Blvd, Austin, TX 78759-5734 not only has a designated potty spot for your dog, but also has treats for your pet, and a low dog fee. Your dog will feel right at home in this comfortable hotel, and so will you. It’s located just two blocks from fine dining and shopping areas, so you can walk to see more of Austin.

Staying a while?

If you’re planning to move to Austin, Texas, you may be wondering about the available of dog friendly apartments. There are quite a few apartments that accept dogs, including large dogs and multiple pets. If you have a service dog or an emotional support animal, you know that while you can stay anywhere with your dog, an apartment that expects pets has a lot of benefits—including more green space for your dog.

The Villas at Stone Oak Ranch is a pet friendly apartment that allows up to 2 dogs with a nominal dog rent. Some breed restrictions do apply.

This apartment not only has plenty of green space to walk your service dog on, but you can also cross the street to Yett Creek Neighborhood Park and explore the hiking trails there. See it for yourself at 13021 Legendary Drive Austin, TX 78727.

Need a vet?

When you own a service dog or an emotional support animal that takes care of you daily, it’s important to ensure they get the health care that they need. They can handle everything from basic wellness visits to intensive care and have their own in-house lab to help speed the process of getting lab results back.

See them for themselves yet at 5720 Menchaca Road, Austin TX 78745.

Take your dog for a splash at an off-leash dog park

Imagine how much fun your dog will have on surrounded by water on three sides as he splashes and plays in the water. Red Bud Aisle is a magical place for dogs and people alike, and is entirely off leash. Your service dog will love the water, and the broad paths are well kept for easy access.

Parking is at a premium, so you may want to come at off peak hours or use a smaller vehicle to help make it easier to enjoy this park.

Visit a farmer’s market

Outdoor markets are a great way to enjoy fresh produce and homemade goods from local farmers and craftsman. Unfortunately, unless you have a service dog, most farmers markets frown on dogs visiting these markets even when they are held outside. If your dog is technically not a service dog, but you still need him to be comfortable in specific situations, finding a dog friendly farmer’s market is a fabulous experience.

The Barton Creek Farmer’s market is a perfect location to bring your emotional support animal, and is open every Saturday from 9AM to 1PM. You can find them at 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy Austin, Texas 78746.

Places to eat in Austin

Taking your service dog into a restaurant is a normal part of living, but if you have an emotional support animal, finding a place to eat that will allow your pet can get tricky. Luckily, Austin restaurants love dogs, and there are a number of places you can bring your furry friend, service dog or not.

Yard Bar

If you want to relax with your dog in an adult setting, Yard Bar is a great place to take your pet. This restaurant actually combines an off leash dog park and a bar, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. The Yard Bar does have some restrictions—no intact animals, even puppies, and no one under the age of 21 may visit.

As long as you meet this criteria, you’ll love the Yard bar, so check it out at 6700 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX, US, 78757.

Austin Terrier

If you have children in tow, the Austin Terrier can feed your whole family without restrictions. Service dogs are always welcome, and emotional support animals are welcome on the patio. They do a great job of taking care of your dog, including offering it water, during your stay.

Austin Terrier is located at 3435 Greystone Dr, Austin, TX, US, 78731 and offers salads, sandwiches, and specialty pizzas.

Go hiking with your dog

Austin Texas is a beautiful place to visit with your dog and has many dog friendly hiking trails your furry friend will love. If hiking is a passion for you and your service dog, give McKinney Falls State Park at 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin, TX, US, 78744 a try.

This hiking trail is a perfect place to take your leashed emotional support animal or service dog as you walk along Onion Creek and listen to the roar of the water. Geocaching and picnic areas are available, making it entertaining as well as good exercise.

If you have a service dog, Austin Texas is a great place to visit. There’s plenty you can see and do with your loyal companion, and many people who will welcome your dog regardless of whether he is wearing identification or not. You’ll love the visit, and you can rest assured your dog will love it too.