Does Illinois Recognize Emotional Support Animals?
Yes, there are emotional support animal Illinois laws recognizing and protecting ESAs.
The state of Illinois permits people to keep and live with emotional support animals without paying for additional feeds. Additionally, federal laws consider these therapy animals necessary for the well-being of people suffering from emotional or mental health conditions.
What are the Emotional Support Animal Illinois Laws?
Several provisions of the Illinois law talk about the varying types of service animals that are usually allowed in public accommodations. These laws differ in the fact that they either cover service animals for people with physical disabilities or those with mental disabilities.
Illinois White Cane Law. The White Cane Law ensures that public facilities allow guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure response dogs, seizure alert dogs, and “support” dogs without any form of disturbance. However, the law does not define these terminologies.
But they do mention that the animal must either be specially trained or must be undergoing training to help those with a visual disability, hearing impairment, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, or any other physical disability. Therefore, it seems that those with mental disabilities seem to be excluded by the law.
Illinois Human Rights Act. This law applies to housing and has the same limitation that the White Cane Law had. In other words, it only applies to guide dogs, hearing dogs, and dogs that assist persons with other physical disabilities.
Illinois Criminal Code. According to the Illinois Criminal Code, public accommodations that do not allow the entry of service animals can be penalized.
This law also defines service animals to include dogs (and even miniature horses) who have been trained or are undergoing training to become guide animals, hearing animals, assistance animals, autism animals, psychiatric service animals, mobility animals, or those animals that help with other physical, mental, or intellectual disabilities.
Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the ADA, a service animal is basically one that is trained to perform tasks that help and benefit a person with a disability. The task done by these animals should directly be linked to the person‘s disability.
However, none of these definitions include emotional support animals, animals that provide a sense of safety, companionship, and comfort to those with psychiatric or emotional disabilities.
This is because they are not usually trained to perform specific tasks but only offer therapeutic benefits. Therefore, under the Illinois law, public accommodations are not under any obligation to allow ESAs (excluding psychiatric service animals)
What are Illinois ESA Housing Laws?
According to the Illinois Human Rights Law, one cannot be refused housing, especially if they are blind, have a hearing problem, or any other disability that requires them to have a service animal. However, this provision caters to only those with physical disabilities.
On the other hand, the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) is broader. It states that the state‘s housing facilities and housing providers must allow both service animals and emotional support animals if their owner has a disability.
This is basically done to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to use the home. In order to qualify for this provision, the person must have a disability and have a need for an ESA or service animal. (For more information, see the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidance on service animals)
What are Illinois ESA Employment Laws?
When it comes to the workplace, there are no specific emotional support animal Illinois protection laws.
In the event that you require an ESA at your workplace, you will have to ask your employer for permission. If you back your claim with an ESA letter from your mental health professional and prove that you have a disability-related need for it, you can have a strong case for yourself.
However, employers are not obligated to allow ESAs at the workplace mainly for the safety of others rather than the individual’s disability.
What are Illinois ESA Travel Laws?
Originally, emotional support animal Illinois regulations allowed ESAs to fly on airlines for free.
However, just like air travel has changed a lot in the last few years, so have the rules regarding ESAs. After changes in the law in 2021, most US-based airlines do not recognize emotional support dogs and other animals.
Service dogs for psychiatric help can still board the flight without having to pay any extra fees. Furthermore, psychiatric service dogs do not qualify for the size and weight restrictions that are often placed on pets that fly in the cabin.
A psychiatric service dog caters to people who suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias, among other mental health issues. However, they are different from ESAs because they have been trained to help their owner fight their disability. However, without this training, a PSD is not considered a service animal.
What are Illinois ESA Public Transportation Laws?
According to the Illinois state-specific provision, guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure alert dogs, seizure response dogs, and other “support“ dogs can enter public places, public accommodations, and facilities.
While these types of service animals do not have any concrete definition, the provision does not state that they have to be trained for specific tasks beforehand.
Therefore, it is easy to assume that people suffering from psychiatric and mental impairments can be excluded under these provisions on a case basis. It is still best to carry an emotional support animal letter that states why you need your ESA to be with you.
How do You Get an Emotional Support Animal in Illinois?
Wondering how to get an emotional support animal? Start by seeing a health care provider who will refer you to a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). The LMPH will confirm the eligibility for an ESA and write an emotional support animal letter.
While there are several certification websites that claim to offer ESAs, they are basically just following a marketing gimmick. Unlike these sites, CertaPet connects you with licensed mental health professionals.
ESAs can help form a therapeutic relationship with the owner and can offer numerous health benefits. If you are eligible, you will receive an ESA letter that will confirm that your pet provides comfort for your mental illness. This is the main documentation you need for your emotional support animal.
Do I Have to Tell My Landlord I Have an Emotional Support Animal in Illinois?
Yes, based on emotional support animal Illinois rules you will have to inform your landlord if you have an emotional support animal.
Fortunately, Illinois has a great system for protecting ESA owners’ rights. If your pet has an ESA letter and has been given all its vaccinations, it can qualify for ESA. Under state laws and federal laws, if your ESA has been recommended by a mental health professional, your rights will be protected.
Can a Landlord Deny an Emotional Support Animal in Illinois?
No, according to emotional support animal Illinois regulations a landlord cannot deny an emotional support animal in Illinois.
Whether you have a service animal or an ESA, you cannot be denied housing simply based on that fact. If you have been denied housing, the landlord can face a fair housing complaint case.
This is mainly because an ESA or a service animal is not a pet but more of a working animal. As a result, pet policies and pet provisions do not apply anymore. However, in case of any damage caused by the animal, the landlord can ask for compensation for the same.
Can You Have Multiple Emotional Support Animals in Illinois?
Yes, you can have as many ESAs as you require. There are no emotional support animal Illinois laws restricting the number of ESAs.
If your ESA does not violate any local or state laws, provides you with the necessary support, and is backed by your mental health professional, you can have as many animals as you need.
However, if you are traveling, you will need to follow emotional support animal Illinois rules and guidelines to make sure you can keep your ESA companion with you at home and when you travel.