The SmartEgg Blog

Are you “On Board” with Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)?

Delta Airlines just implemented a stricter policy regarding support animals on planes. You can read about it here. I guess they’ve been having problems with animals biting, wandering around, and using the plane as a toilet. I’ve been on a bunch of flights with support animals and never experienced any of this myself—have you?


In fact, whenever I see animals in airports and on planes, I think, “I wish my dog Taj were here, too!” (He would absolutely hate it and be freaked out, but that’s a different story and he’s not an ESA anyway.)


The issue of emotional support animals is also a hot topic among property managers. Most managers use a pet agreement and charge a pet deposit/rent, but ESAs are not considered pets and, therefore, we can’t use a pet agreement or charge any fees. In addition, some landlords and insurance companies restrict what they consider to be dangerous dog breeds, but this is not allowed with an ESA.


Tenants are still responsible to pay for damages caused by their animals but landlords have fewer protections than they used to. But this isn’t even what has smoke coming out of some landlords’ ears—it’s the fact that you can get a fake certificate online within minutes and some people are taking advantage of this to game the system. It allows them to bring their animals on planes for free, and also to rent a home without paying a pet deposit. This great video shows how easy it is to get one of these meaningless certificates and what kinds of animals make it onto airplanes (albino hedgehog, anyone?).


Landlords don’t have to accept these certificates and can, in fact, request a letter from a doctor or therapist (that the tenant has seen personally and has an actual relationship with) saying that the animal is needed for support. Some landlords still grouse a bit because of the loss of protections and their inability to deny animals in their properties, should they wish to because of the extra wear and tear on flooring, etc.


Many humans see their companion animals as family members and I feel this way about my own dog Taj. I certainly relate to wanting to bring Taj everywhere, although he doesn’t like leaving the house. I personally enjoy seeing animals out and about, at restaurants, and even on planes. I would be pretty un-psyched, however, to see dog poop in the aisle.


What do you think about Delta’s new, stricter policy? Is it a good thing, or is it making travel unreasonably difficult for people with genuine support animals? And do you think that landlords should have the right to choose whether or not to have animals in their properties? Or do you support ESAs across the board? Tell us in the comments below!


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