Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Santa Clara

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 14, 2021

santa clara california map

Getting an emotional support animal in Santa Clara isn’t too different from the rest of America. But in saying this, there can often be small differences in law from state to state that may affect you and your pooch in some way. But don’t let that put you off! There are many benefits from owning an ESA, including those regarding housing, study, and even air travel. So let’s look specifically at some of these laws in Santa Clara.


Emotional Support Animal in Santa Clara: Specific protection

Specific state protection throughout California can change slightly from city to city. But it’s important to know the specific laws in California before we dive into these specifics! So let’s have a quick look at what exactly these benefits of owning an ESA in Santa Clara are!

Definition of Assistance Animal

So let’s start with some definitions to clear up any confusion! The FHA defines an assistance animal as one which provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of persons with disabilities, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.

Falling under the assistance animal umbrella, are two further categories of assistance type animals. These include service animals and emotional support animals.

  1. In California, a service animal must individually be trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of people with disabilities, including a physical, sensory or other mental disability. This includes the likes of a guide dog for the visually impaired!
  2. Then there are emotional support animals which work or perform tasks or services for an individual with an emotional disability. These animals typically provide comfort and relief from emotional effects. So you don’t have to be physically impaired to have an ESA!

**Therapy animals provide people with therapeutic contact to improve their physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning. They can be found in children’s hospitals and retirement homes too; however, because of this, they are not technically an assistance animal as they belong to an organization and not an individual owner. 

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Remember those benefits we mentioned earlier? Well, here’s one of them! Taking your ESA in-flight is completely legal. That’s right, regardless of the air carrier company, there is no restricting you taking your ESA to your in-flight seat.

Protection from the ACAA means by law there must be no further questions or payments requested. This is federal law too, which means you can be traveling anywhere in the US and it still applies. To ensure security by this law, there a few regulations you are expected to know!

You will likely be prompted to provide an emotional support animal letter by a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP). This letter will prescribe the animal to you and state details on how the animal provides support for the associated disability.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal in Santa Clara

It’s actually easier than most would think. CertaPet has made the process simple, start by finding out if you are eligible for an ESA right now. Follow below:

  1. Complete a free online 5-minute pre-screening process.
  2. Become connected with a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) online.
  3. If approved, you will receive an ESA letter from CertaPet in less than 48 business hours!

Told you it was simple!

Employment Laws

The ADA federal law protects service dogs from denial of entry into almost all public places. Unfortunately, ESAs are not covered under the service dogs act. This means, employers legally do not have to allow your ESA at work. But that doesn’t completely rule out the possibility!

If your ESA is well behaved and compatible with your work environment, it may be worth asking the boss.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

Americans with disabilities requiring a support animal are protected by the FHA. Whether you’re renting a house, in an apartment or flatting, landlords must provide reasonable accommodation for you and your ESA. This includes ‘no-pet’ housing too!

The FHA also ensures you are not met with any additional pet fees for your ESA, so all house hunting is of equal opportunity. Looking for new accommodation can be difficult, so it’s important to be prepared. Landlords can often ask for the letter by an LMHP (as mentioned above).

Any damage to the property caused by your support animal must be paid for. Substantial property damage can give the landlord a legal reason to evict!

ESA Campus Housing

For any individual suffering from a mental health disability, moving out of home can be daunting. Especially without your ESA! Universities all across America recognize this and have made special laws regarding ESAs living on campus.

This is because the FHA states that all public housing must accommodate for ESAs, so that includes on-campus living too. So if you’re looking to study in Santa Clara, don’t let your disability get in the way of education!

Exception to Rules

With the array of advantages offered with an ESA, there are few exceptions and guidelines to follow. Below are some key exceptions to the rules.

  • With the on-campus living, this does not entitle your ESA to go with you to other parts of the campus. The ESA is restricted to your living area only, never lounge, study or cooking areas.
  • Remember your ESA is not a service animal! There are very few areas where service animals are not allowed, but unfortunately, this does not include ESAs.
  • If your ESA is particularly aggressive or poses a threat to those around you, airlines can deny you access to air-travel. Thankfully most of our little pouches just want hugs!

Punishment for misrepresenting an assistance animal

In California, it is a misdemeanor to falsely and knowingly claim that you are the owner or trainer of a service animal. This crime can cost you six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000! It is unclear whether or not misrepresenting an ESA is against the law in California, but going off of those stats id avoid it to be safe!

3 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. For ESAs there is no such thing as a ‘certificate’ or ‘registration’! Many companies will try to convince you there is and sell you a fake ESA letter but don’t be fooled, it’s not real!
  2. Veterans can get ESAs too! Those who have been diagnosed with PTSD are included under the ADA.
  3. Remember your ESA is not a service animal! This is essential to remember because in all states service animals have a lot more freedom in their laws.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

The best places to find an ESA in Santa Clara would be local animal shelters. The Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority has a lot of fur babies on offer! Remember, ESAs don’t need any specialized training so whichever animal catches your eye is a go!

Once you’ve decided on your support animal, just be sure to get a vet check done. This will save you in health expenses later down the track.

Where to Take your Emotional Support Animal

Santa Clara has a lot on offer for our pouches!

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Fancy some fitness with your emotional support dog? check out:

  • Reed Street Dog Park
  • Live Oak Park

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

Or how about a bite with our furry friends?

  • Piatti
  • The Prolific Oven

Resorts, fitness, and spas

Just passing through Santa Clara with your ESA?

  • Hilton Santa Clara
  • Vagabond Inn Santa Clara


Pop over to San Jose for the day and visit Yappy Hour with your ESA! Or how about a shopping trip with your ESA at Doga at Pup Plaza? Both of these events occur during December so get to looking!

ESAs in Santa Clara: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Santa Clara Today!

Now that you’ve got an idea of what owning an ESA in Santa Clara might be like, you can take the next step! Begin with CertaPets online pre-screening, and start healing today!

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