Emotional Support Animals (ESA's) are domesticated animals that provide comfort and companionship to their owners. These companions may include a variety of animals, and are usually but not always a current pet. ESA's are not trained to perform tasks or recognize particular signs or symptoms but are distinguished by the close, emotional, and supportive bond between the animal and the owner.
Listed below are some examples of common ESA's:
- sugar gliders
- guinea pigs
- domestic duck
- miniature and regular horses
Even though this is a list of some of the more common ESA's, this should not be construed as a comprehensive list of ALL qualifying ESA's because there are too many to list on this page.
Differences Between Support Animals:
Emotional Support Animals (ESA): Provide support and emotional comfort without any specific training. You are not automatically granted the right of access to public places (such as movie theaters, restaurants, buses, hotels, businesses, etc.). Many businesses will allow your ESA to accompany you upon request.
Therapy Dogs: Trained to visit hospitals, nursing homes, or other institutions to offer support to residents. You are not automatically granted the right of access to public places (such as movie theaters, restaurants, buses, hotels, businesses, etc.).
Service Dogs: Trained to provide specific assistance for medical or psychiatric conditions. You are automatically granted the right of access to public places with your dog.
According to Florida law, "a person who knowingly and willfully misrepresents herself or himself, through conduct or verbal or written notice, as using a service animal and being qualified to use a service animal or as a trainer of a service animal commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083 and must perform 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months." - 2016 Florida Statutes, 413.08 (9).