Before discussing the new ESA Laws by California, let’s know the difference between an Emotional Support Animal and Service Animal. You might be wondering, is it mandatory to know about this? We can directly jump to the topic.
The answer is yes. This Law is introduced to protect Service Animal Privileges. Most of us think that Emotional Support Animals and Service animals are the same. A lot of us even use these terms interchangeably. Both are not the same. There’s a difference between both.
Difference between ESA and Service Animal
Service Animals require special training so that they can assist a person in daily life tasks. Here service animals help a person who is physically or mentally disabled. Their assistance to that person makes a person’s life easier and less challenging.
While in the case of Emotional Support Animals, there’s no need for special training. When a person is facing emotional difficulties, they can go for an ESA. An ESA helps to heal someone’s mental health with its companionship.
Emotional Support Animal Laws California
The main difference between ESA and Service Animal is ESA does not require any special training. There are some differences in terms of privileges also. According to Federal and State laws, a person with a service animal can go to public places while an ESA can’t. Therefore, some people represent their ESA as service animals to benefit from those privileges. These new California ESA Laws were introduced so that only people with Service Animals can enjoy those privileges.
Three sections in this Law contain guidelines for ESA providers, ESA Certification providers, and Mental Health professionals who issue the ESA Letter.
The First Section Guidelines:
Any person or organization that provides dogs for use as ESA dogs is required to give a notice that reads, in part:
- The dog is untrained and unfit to serve as a service, guide, or signal dog.
- The dog cannot enjoy the advantages provided to a guide, signal, or service dog.
- It is against the Law to purposefully represent or identify yourself as a guide, signal, service dog owner, or trainer.
Second Section Instructions:
The people or organizations that issue emotional support animal certifications, IDs, tags, vests, leashes, or harnesses also note that the dog is only recognized as an emotional support animal and not as a guide, signal, or service dog. Additionally, the notice must include all the specific information listed in the Law’s first section.
Note: Anyone who violates the provisions mentioned above by misrepresenting emotional support dogs as a guide, signal, or service dogs or tries to claim falsely that they are entitled to the protections afforded to such animals by California dog laws will face sanctions.
Criminals can be sentenced to a maximum of six months in the county jail, and penalties like:
- First-Time Violation: $500
- Second Time Violation: $1000
- Third Time Violation: $2500
Third Section Instructions:
According to this Law, a licensed mental healthcare expert can provide an ESA Letter only if they fulfill the following conditions:
- Healthcare expert is licensed. They should have legitimate and valid licenses. The type of license also should be mentioned on the license.
- The healthcare expert should also mention the state where the ESA document is issued so that a person who checks the ESA document should able to know the scope of the ESA document.
- The healthcare expert should also build a client-provider relationship with the person who requested an ESA document for 30 days.
- The healthcare professional should also note that it is against Law to describe oneself as a service animal owner.
These laws were essential as there are a lot of people who are using someone else’s rights as service animal owners.