Important Definitions
and Explanations

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act or “ADA” is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

The Air Carrier Access Act is a federal law guarantees your right to air travel with your service dog or emotional support animal in the cabin of an aircraft without discrimination and NOT be charged a pet fee.

Fair Housing Amendments Act

This federal law protects the right of people with disabilities, and requires landlords to make a reasonable accommodation to allow a disabled tenant to keep a service or emotional support animal ESA). This applies even when a landlord’s policy explicitly prohibits pets. Landlords may NOT charge a pet fee.

What is a Disability

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, an individual with a disability is a person who is regarded as having or has HAD a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include functions such as performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Service Dog

A service dog is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service dogs.

Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD)

A Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) is like any other service dog. They are individually trained in obedience, performing tasks, and working in distracting public environments to mitigate their partner’s psychiatric disability. Their function is NOT to provide emotional support, but to perform tasks which enable their partner to function in ordinary ways the non-disabled take for granted.

Service Dog in Training

This is simply a dog that is in the training phase of becoming a service dog. Although service dogs in training have no federally protected rights, many public places allow access by a handler with a service dog in training.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a pet that provides companionship to a person who suffers from symptoms of a mental or emotional disability. ESA’s are considered “treatment” for Nearly all domestic pets qualify.

ESA Prescription Letter

An ESA prescription letter is the legally necessary letter written by a licensed therapist, psychiatrist, or medical doctor that prescribes an emotional support animal for an impaired person. The letter must be properly written and contain very specific information. These letters are typically valid for 12 months.

Therapy Animal

Often confused with emotional support animals, a “therapy animal” is a dog, cat, or other animal that is usually trained and carefully screened to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with autism. Therapy Animals have no legally protected rights.

Assistance Animal

“Assistance Animal” is an informal and unofficial name for “service dog”.

Comfort Pet or Comfort Animal

A “Comfort” Pet or animal is just an informal and unofficial name for an emotional support animal (ESA).

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