Guilty!  I was often guilty of thinking many people were abusing the Emotional Support Animal “privilege.”  I was judge and jury, filled with resentment and convinced they were full of it.  The dog was a PET, not an emotional support animal.  I don’t judge anyone anymore.  

I’ve heard stories to know enough that these animals are incredibly important to many people, as important as a wheelchair may be to a disabled person.  Knowledge is power.  Now, I would never judge them!

If I was brutally raped, I may want to have the comfort of a German Shepherd by my side and sleeping by my bed every night.  Or, maybe even a little tiny dog that would alert me to the slightest noise.  One in 6 women are raped in this country, and one out of every 33 men will be raped, or suffer attempted rape.  There are a lot of victims who may need support.

It doesn’t take a heinous crime to require support either.  I had a good friend of mine, Dot, who walked dogs.  Occasionally she would keep dogs overnight.  

Chloe, a Dachshund, about 6 years old, was a deaf and blind rescue dog.  Dot had taken her out late the night before.  She let Chloe sleep with her.  She had always been great in the past didn’t move or make any noise all night long.  

This time was different, Chloe woke Dot up about 5:30 am tearing around and making whining noises.  She kept nudging Dot.  Dot tried to get her to go back to sleep.  “She wouldn’t stop nudging me and making noises.” Dot tried to get up, but she couldn’t, she felt terrible

“I went to get up and I couldn’t move,” Dot recounted,  “I was able to reach my phone and I called my neighbor.”  Dot just wanted her to come get the dog.  When the neighbor arrived Chloe became an attack dog.  They had to get  another neighbor with another dog that Chloe knew just so they could get to Dot.  This dog with no training, deaf and blind, knew something was wrong with Dot and she had become very protective.  Turns out Dot was having a stroke! 

“If it wasn’t for Chloe I don’t know what would have happened to me…I would have been dead.”   

Animals can be our alarms, our doorbells, our protectors, our best friend, calming us, helping us with anxiety and fears.  They can rescue us, give us purpose to live, and help in so many other ways.

I don’t own any animals right now.  Wouldn’t want any, but, I know that they are invaluable to many others and I will not judge them.  The Fair Housing Act of 1968 protects those who need assistive aids, just like wheel chairs, emotional support animals are necessary for emotional support.  

“An assistance animal is defined as an animal that provides assistance and performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. This also includes an animal that provides emotional support which alleviates one or more symptoms associated with a mental or emotional disability.”

Landlords and HOAs must recognize this need; this animal is required for support. ESAs do not fall under the “Pet Policy.”  No additional deposit can be required, nor can additional monthly rent be requested.  It’s a Federal Law that has been in place since 1968. 

Effective July 1st, 2020 Florida beefed up their law to prevent the abuses.  No longer can someone get documentation on-line.  A letter must be provided by a treating Medical Provider. 

You can’t deny a tenant because they have an ESA.  Please don’t judge people who have ESAs.  At some point, you may need one too. Having an Emotional Support Animal is a “right,”not a privilege, with the proper documentation.

Learn more about the proper documentation at Florida Realtors