Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Texas 

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: April 21, 2023


Today, an emotional support animal in Texas has become quite infamous for their versatility as an assistance animal. And, why wouldn’t they be?

The stigma of mental illness often disables people suffering from mental disorders to actually seek help through an assistance animal. However, today, it’s been proven that emotional support dog can truly help a personal sense of well-being through comfort.

So, whether you’re a long-term veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or a student suffering from depression, know that you will be protected by laws that allow you to travel and stay with your ESA!

Emotional Support Animal in Texas: Specific Protection

An emotional support animal in Texas is a comfort animal that needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. Under the Texas state law, emotional support animals are companion animals that provide safety and comfort to those suffering from an array of mental illness.

If you live in the great lone state, then it is important to know that an emotional support animal in Texas is only protected by two laws. These are the Air Carrier Access Act and a federal law is known as the Fair Housing Act.

In the state of Texas, an emotional support animal or support dog is not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Definition of Assistance Animal

An assistance animal is any animal that may be of service to a person with a disability, but they are usually classed as emotional support animals or (psychiatric) service dogs

Now, you might be wondering—how are emotional support or psychiatric service dogs different from say a service dog? Well, a service animal is almost always a dog that is trained to perform very specific tasks.

For example, service animals can include a seeing-eye dog who’s trained in the art of helping their handler move through the world without sight. Seizure-alert dogs are trained to perform tasks that allow them to detect when their owner is about to have a seizure and help them.

Now you might think that an emotional support dog is synonymous with a psychiatric service dog. Well, these terms are often used interchangeably; however, both are different.

In Texas, a psychiatric service dog is protected under both the ADA and Texas Laws. A psychiatric service dog is a type of assistance animal whose job is to help individuals suffering from severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia. These assistance animals are often trained to perform tasks for their owners.

People with a psychiatric dog often suffer from severe mental disabilities that physically affect their day-to-day lives.

An emotional support animal in Texas is simply a companion animal, that has no specialized training. ESAs are also used to help a person suffering from an emotional/mental illness. However, the key difference is that people with ESAs tend to suffer from less restrictive illnesses such as depression or anxiety.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Texas: CertaPet’s Simple 5 Min Process

Mental illness is truly a disability that can affect our day-to-day lives. People with any form of mental illness—be it, anxiety, panic attacks, or depression—have the right to feel safe, comforted, and at peace. Here at CertaPet, we recognize the importance of an emotional support animal. So, we’ve made the entire process of obtaining your ESA letter a lot more easier and hassle-free.

how to get an emotional support animal in texas

All you need to do is take out quick, 5-minute free pre-screening questionnaire and answer all questions truthfully. At the end of the questionnaire—should you be a good candidate for an ESA, we will connect you to one of our licensed mental health professional.

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

Have you ever wondered if you can take your emotional support dog on an airplane? Well, you can pretty much take him on any aircraft, so as long as you adhere to the rules.

Like in many other states, an emotional support animal in Texas will be protected under the Air Carrier Access Act. But, what exactly does this mean?

This means that airlines will recognize the need for their passengers to travel with their ESA and as such airlines make reasonable accommodation to passengers by allowing their assistance animal to join them in the cabin. However, as a responsible owner and handler, it is your job to ensure:

If you adhere to all these rules and if your ESA is well-behaved, then you will be allowed to bring your ESA in the cabin during your flight.

Employment Laws

An emotional support animal in Texas is not protected under the ADA. Therefore, employers do not need to provide accommodation to owners of ESAs.

However, if you believe animal-assisted therapy will truly help you better your performance at work, then you can personally request for your employer to make an exception. Many employers see the value of animal-assisted therapy and may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

Plan on getting an emotional support animal in Texas? Not sure if your ESA will be allowed in the apartment you’re renting?

In the state of Texas, any people with disabilities have the right to ask for reasonable accommodation.

All assistance animals are generally protected under the Fair Housing Act, which states that any persons with disabilities—be it a mental or physical impairment, will be allowed to bring their ESA or service animal, into a home that is otherwise has a “no-pets” policy.

You just have to have your ESA letter and possibly some custom forms, which our LMHPs are happy to fill out.

ESA Campus Housing

According to the University of Texas, an emotional support animal will be allowed access to on-campus housing. However, ESAs are not permitted in other campus buildings, in lecture halls, or in public settings. ESAs are strictly only permitted in university housing.

Exception to Rules

While most landlords have no issue providing reasonable accommodation to those suffering from mental illness, it is important to keep in mind that under certain situations, a landlord has the right to reject your emotional support animal. According to the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, your landlord can reject your emotional support animal when:

  1. The emotional support animal is a threat to the landlord and other tenants.
  2. The emotional support animal is causing physical damage to the landlords’ property.

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

In 2017, it was announced that misrepresentation of a service animal in Texas would result in a fine of up to $300 and up to 30 hours of community service in a non-profit organization.

3 Facts You Need to Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1.  Emotional support dogs and emotional support cats are generally the more common ESAs.
  2.  Despite most ESAs being companion animals (dogs, cats), it is important to remember that an emotional support animal is not a pet!
  3. It’s very important that you take the time and effort to train your ESA properly! Make sure they know all the basic commands like, “sit”, “stay”, and “walk properly”. This will make living and travel with your emotional support dog/cat much easier.

Where to Find a Suitable ESA!

An important thing to remember is that an emotional support animal does not require specialized training. ESAs are there to simply act as a safety net for owners struggling with mental illness. So, when you’re on the hunt for your furry support system, simply consider what animal makes you feel at ease.

We highly recommend that you check out pet shelters and rescues because you will not only be saving a life, but you’ll also have the opportunity to meet and greet many animals. Check out:

  • SPCA of Texas
  • PAWS Shelter of Central Texas
  • Pasadena Animal Shelter

Where to Take Your Emotional Support Animal

An emotional support animal in Texas can live a lovely life by visiting dog parks, dog runs, dog-friendly restaurants and more. Your ESA is always there to help you, so make sure you return the favor by letting them have fun!

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

Does your emotional support dog need a run? Or perhaps some downtime from comforting you? Make sure you visit these top dog parks and dog runs in Texas:

  • Red Bud Isle (Austin, TX)
  • Phil Hardberger Dog Park (San Antonio, TX)
  • Congressman Bill Archer Bark Park (Houston, TX)
  • Dog Park in Cedar Park (Cedar Park, TX)

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars

There are tons of doggie-friendly restaurants and bars your ESA can visit with you. Check out:

  • Olympia The Grill at Pier 21 (Galveston, TX)
  • Yaga’s Cafe (Galveston, TX)
  • Mosquito Cafe (Galveston, TX)
  • Sam’s Boat (Houston, TX)
  • Boondoogles (El Lago, TX)

Resorts, fitness, and spas

Traveling? Don’t want to leave your bud back? Check out these pet friends hotels and resorts in Texas:

  • La Quinta Inn & Suites San Antonio Downtown (San Antonio, TX)
  • Best Western Marina Grand Hotel (Corpus Christi, TX)
  • Hotel Havana (San Antonio, TX)
  • Aloft Dallas Downtown (Dallas, TX)


Do you want your ESA to take part in some fun events? Check out these events in Texas:

  • Play MetroDemic (Dallas, TX)
  • Doggie Day Out (Pflugerville, TX)
  • Paws in the Pooloza (Cedar Hill, TX)

ESA in Texas: How to Get Connected with a LMHP in Your State Today!

If you truly believe you have a mental illness and that an emotional support animal will help ease your struggles then CertaPet is the way to go.

Here at CertaPet, we acknowledge the human-animal bond and its importance to those who suffer from mental illnesses. And, we know that animals have a way of making our lives much easier.

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