The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A.
CALL NOW! 954-966-3909
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A.
CALL NOW! 954-966-3909


Understanding the Differences Between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal

Florida ESA attorney

Navigating the complex world of service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs) can be challenging, especially when legal issues arise. Understanding the distinctions between these two types of animals is crucial for both owners and those interacting with them in various settings. The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A., led by Herb Milgrim, is dedicated to providing expert legal guidance in these matters. As a seasoned Florida ESA attorney and Florida condo attorney, Herb Milgrim offers invaluable insights and support to clients throughout Florida.

Service Animals: Definition and Legal Protections

Service animals are specifically trained to perform tasks or do work for individuals with disabilities. These tasks can range from guiding a visually impaired person, alerting a deaf individual to sounds, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, reminding a person to take medication, or even detecting and mitigating seizures. The training these animals undergo is extensive and tailored to the needs of their handler.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are predominantly dogs, although in some cases, miniature horses can also qualify. The ADA provides robust protections for service animal handlers, ensuring that their animals are allowed in most public spaces, including restaurants, hotels, and stores. This federal law mandates that service animals be permitted to accompany their handlers anywhere the public is allowed, with very few exceptions.

Emotional Support Animals: Definition and Legal Standing

Emotional support animals (ESAs) provide comfort and companionship to individuals dealing with mental health conditions or emotional disorders. Unlike service animals, ESAs do not require specific training to perform tasks. Their mere presence helps alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other psychological conditions.

The legal protections for ESAs differ significantly from those for service animals. ESAs are not covered under the ADA and therefore do not have the same access rights to public places. However, they are recognized under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The FHA allows individuals with ESAs to live with their animals in housing that otherwise prohibits pets, provided they have documentation from a licensed mental health professional. The ACAA previously permitted ESAs to travel in the cabin of an aircraft, but recent changes in regulations have shifted the focus to service animals, with many airlines now treating ESAs as regular pets.

Legal Challenges and Responsibilities

The distinctions between service animals and ESAs can lead to legal challenges, particularly in housing and travel scenarios. For instance, condominium associations in Florida may have specific rules regarding pets, leading to conflicts when a resident requires an ESA. Herb Milgrim, as a knowledgeable Florida condo attorney, has extensive experience in addressing these issues, ensuring that the rights of individuals with ESAs are upheld while balancing the concerns of housing providers.

Many Housing Providers like Condos and Homeowner Associations will have the Association’s Attorneys scrutinize any requests for accommodations under the Fair Housing Act.   Many people try to seek these accommodations without fully understanding the complex body of Federal and State Laws.    Association Attorneys are not there to help or guide you through the process.  They are typically employed by the Associations because much of the documentation submitted is not considered reliable or does not have the correct language.    In these cases, having a skilled Florida ESA attorney like Herb Milgrim can be instrumental in resolving disputes and advocating for the handler’s rights.  We only represent individuals and never represent the Associations or their Boards.

Documenting the Need for an ESA

For those seeking to qualify their pet as an ESA, obtaining appropriate reliable documentation is essential. A letter from a treating licensed healthcare provider is usually the most reliable form of documentation.   Unfortunately, your treating healthcare provider is not an expert in the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and they usually err on the side of putting less information in the letter.   In response, the Association Attorneys then send out these intimidating letters requesting more information and quoting all the penalties for falsifying an accommodation request.  We help disabled individuals to properly document these requests so that the Associations have no choice but to grant the accommodation.

The Importance of Legal Guidance

Navigating the legal landscape surrounding service animals and ESAs can be daunting. Understanding your rights and responsibilities is crucial to avoid conflicts and ensure compliance with relevant laws. The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. offers comprehensive legal services to help clients with these matters. As a seasoned Florida ESA attorney and Florida condo attorney, Herb Milgrim provides expert advice and representation to ensure that your rights are protected and your needs are met.

Contact The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A.

Whether you have a service animal or an emotional support animal, understanding the legal distinctions and protections is vital. If you are facing legal challenges related to your service animal or ESA, The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is here to help. With extensive experience in both ESA and condo law, Herb Milgrim is the trusted Florida ESA attorney and Florida condo attorney you need. Contact The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. today to ensure your rights and your companion’s needs are safeguarded.