Emotional Support Animal Laws in Washington State

downtown seattle skylineWashington state is a gem in the Pacific Northwest that gives you access to beaches, mountains, and lush forests. If you reside in gorgeous Washington state or you’re looking to make a move west, but you’re not sure how to navigate laws around emotional support animals, we can help.

From getting an ESA to understanding public access laws, we break down the entire process step-by-step for your ease.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal, or ESA, is an animal that improves the emotional well-being of their handler simply by being there. ESAs can be any animal, though cats and dogs are the most popular choices, and they don’t require any specialized training. All an ESA needs to be legitimate is a letter written by a licensed mental health professional stating that your ESA improves your life.

Emotional support animals aren’t recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is what provides federal legal protection for service dogs specifically. This means that the laws around ESAs can be trickier to navigate in the U.S., as each state can offer a different perspective, though the Fair Housing Act does provide housing rights to ESAs throughout the entire nation.

Emotional Support Animal Laws in Washington

Washington state doesn’t legally recognize emotional support animals, which means that no state laws offer additional protections or public access. There are some federal laws to keep in mind when you start looking into the pursuit of an ESA, however.

Travel Laws

When it comes to plane travel, the Air Carrier Access Act (or ACAA) ruled in 2020 that ESAs are considered pets and can be treated as such. This means that you will likely need to pay a pet fee for your ESA, and you may need to have your ESA ride in cargo, especially if it’s too big to fit under the seat in front of you.



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