ESA Owner Rights and Responsibilities
The American Disability Act dictates that assistance animals must be handled properly by its owner. Different from service dogs, emotional support animals should generally be obedient and can behave well in public. As there are no federal laws governing support animals in public or in general, the handler is responsible for the care and supervision of the ESA at all times, as any other responsible pet owner.
What if my emotional support animal destroys property?
Under the Fair Housing Act, a tenant can be liable for expenses that arise from damages caused by the emotional support animal, and may be required to cover costs for damage or reasonable wear and tear, but only if it is the landlord’s common practice to assess for damages.
If damages are routinely assessed for excessive wear and tear, or for pets of non-disabled tenants, then the housing provider has a right to treat all tenants on equal grounds. A tenant should not neglect to properly care for their emotional support animal, as well as follow provisions of their lease. Any animal is protected under state animal laws, so be sure to check your local laws.
ESAs in Public Places
A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service dog from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. For more on the ADA Service Animal laws, see our explanation or visit our FAQ to learn the differences between service animals and companion or support animals.
An emotional support animal is not a service dog. As a pet owner, you are liable for your pet’s behavior in public places where other dogs are normally permitted. If your pet creates a disturbance or destroys property, you may be liable for a fine or other local laws.