2022 Updates

New Emotional Support Animal Law in California- 2022

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Written By Darren M. Jorgenson

July 15, 2022

Did you know that this year a new ESA law has been implemented? If not, let us tell you that Governor Newsom approved a new California law on emotional support animals that have been applied in California from January 1, 2022. Before that, like in every state of the United States, emotional support animals were solely managed by ESA federal laws in California. However, from January 2022, things have changed! Everyone dealing with emotional support animals, whether owners, ESA letter service providers, ESA sellers, or even Health practitioners, must follow these new California emotional support animal laws along with the federal laws!

The purpose behind the sudden implementation of this new emotional support animals California law was to prevent ESA fraud in California. Complaints were rising day by day, and after looking at the hype of ESA frauds, the government took a strict decision.
That’s how came the idea of Assembly Bill-468, and soon turned into a law!

Policies for restricting pets do not apply to ESAs because ESAs are not considered normal pets under the FHA. Rules such as pet bans and restrictions, including the size, weight, or breed of your animal, are waived for people with legal ESA letters. Moreover, ESA owners are also exempt from any extra service fees for pets, even though fees might be applicable charged for normal pets.

As an emotional support pet owner, you may often wonder: whether or not their landlord will deny emotional support animals, and when can a landlord legally reject an ESA?

So, what are these new ESA laws in California?

Firstly, before learning about regulations under the new emotional support animal rental laws in California, read what CA Legislative Committee stated about this issue; “according to the bill’s author and sponsors, the emergence of ESAs has led to an increase in the fraudulent selling and subsequent misrepresenting of emotional support dogs as service dogs,” including “businesses[es] now sell[ing] various misleading ESA-related certificates and merchandise that inaccurately imply that ESAs have the same legal rights and privileges as service dogs. Items generally include vests, tags, patches, holographic identification cards, and certificate documents prominently featuring the words “Emotional Support Animal” and in some instances “ESA, Protected Under Federal Law,” which can imply that ESAs wearing such accessories are granted the same rights as service dogs.” So, they mean that people are illegally describing ESA as service animals to benefit from all the privileges that are only offered to service animals by the U.S government. Now you must be wondering, so what! Aren’t they both pets? Or service dogs and ESA dogs are so alike that the government had to create new California pet laws to distinguish between them knowingly or unknowingly unmistakable? Well, the government is right!

Service animals and emotional support animals are very much dissimilar. The main difference is as follows;

  • Service animals are animals trained to help patients with a disability as per the American Disability Act.
  • Emotional Support animals are animals that, just with their companionship, help patients who suffer from emotional or mental illness as per DSM-V.

From the above, it is clear that Service animals are trained to serve a more intricate purpose. That’s why they are offered more rights than emotional support animals as per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), and Fair Housing act. The other difference is that only dogs (miniature horses in some cases) are approved as service animals. In contrast, almost any animal like a dog, cat, mouse, alligator, etc., can be approved as an emotional support animal.

Whereas after the legalization of this bill, anyone who will intentionally and fraudulently express their ESA dog as a service dog will have to face the consequences of their doing as decided by these new CA ESA laws.

The instructions are made clear under this new law to all the ESA suppliers, ESA verification service providers, and Health professionals who sign ESA letters in California.

Emotional support animal suppliers and ESA verification providers who violate the new dog laws in California can be jailed for up to six months or charged penalties of $500, $1000, and $2500 for consecutive first, second, and third or further violations.

As per new CA emotional support animal laws; a specific person or business that supplies
  • emotional support dogs to the people,
  • certificate, identification, tag, vest, leash, or harness for an emotional support animal
  • Have to provide at least a 12-point bold typewritten document to the customer, stating that;
” The dog is not trained as a service dog. That’s why the dog has no rights to the laws’ privileges given to a guide, signal, or service dog. Other than this, the document should clarify that it is illegal if the dog owners purposefully and falsely claim the dog is qualified as a guide, signal, or service dog.”

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End Note:

Along with this, the new ESA laws in California mentioned some new guidelines for the health professionals like therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc., who write and approve ESA documentation for the ESA owners. The guidelines are; Only that health practitioner who has a genuine license of state in which they are providing services can approve an ESA documentation. The health practitioner can provide ESA documentation only after establishing a client-provider relationship with the client, and that too for a minimum of one month. Just like ESA suppliers and ESA certificate, identification, tag, vest, leash, or harness providers, the health practitioner has to provide written notice stating guidelines as mentioned above to mark that documentation is for ESA dog and not for a guide, signal, or service dog. As citizens of California, we can only hope that the new emotional support animal laws in California will show better results and stop ESA fraud. The changes needed to be made long before this. Anyhow, better late than never!

Why Choose My ESA Therapist?

ESA Letter is not a cure to any mental disability, it is just a legal document signed by a therapist that certifies your disability and gives your pet a status of “emotional support animal” so that you get the freedom to take your pets to restricted places. At My ESA Therapist, we aim to provide a better life to you through the companionship and love that you attain by the presence of your pet. We are here to assist you in proclaiming your privileges as a pet owner and deal with uncooperative tenant restrictions and outrageous pet deposits.

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