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Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals And Pets In San Mateo, CA

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals And Pets In San Mateo, CA

According to San Francisco Assemblyman Matt Haney, 70% of California renters have pets. Landlords may prohibit pets, but what about service and emotional support animals?

Some people rely on dogs to guide them, help them with tasks, or as therapy animals. As a landlord, there are laws you must follow concerning service and assistance animals.

Keep reading as we explore the differences between service, emotional support animals, and pets in San Mateo, CA.

Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support dog is an animal that acts as a companion to the owner. This person has a medically diagnosed disability and the dog or other animal provides therapeutic benefits by alleviating one or more symptoms of a person's disability.

Support animals do not need specific training. To receive the support animal designation, however, it is necessary to provide medical documentation.

Emotional support animal laws fall under the Fair Housing Act. This act prohibits housing discrimination against people with disabilities. A no-pet rule and pet deposits must be waved for emotional support animals (ESAs).

When your dog or other animal has an emotional support animal registration, they are not considered pets under the law. A landlord, condo board, and HOAs cannot impose pet limits or pet bans on people with ESAs.

ESAs may be barred from public places or businesses, but not from housing under the Fair Housing Act.

Service Animals

What's the key difference when it comes to service vs. support dogs? Service dogs receive extensive training to perform certain specific functions or carry out a job that his or her owner cannot do. The owners have a physical, emotional, or intellectual disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers service animals and the specific rights awarded to their owners. Only dogs and horses can be service animals.

Some examples of jobs service animals do for their handlers include the following:

  • Alert the person that they're about to have a seizure and give protection during the seizure.
  • Guiding the blind.
  • Alerting the deaf.
  • Calming someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.
  • Pulling a wheelchair.
  • Remind a disabled person to take prescribed medications.

These animals are invaluable to someone suffering from any of these disabilities. Service animals are allowed into all public spaces and housing. Landlords may not charge pet fees or deposits for service dogs.

Landlord Rights

As a landlord, you may be weighing the pros and cons of allowing pets into your rental property. You may have a no-pet policy, but it will not apply to emotional support or service animals.

Emotional Support vs. Service Animal

As a property owner, knowing tenants' rights when navigating a pet policy is important. What are your obligations concerning support animals and service animals?

Don't go it alone when drawing up a pet policy. The team at Five Star Property Management can help. We are a full-service property management company in the San Mateo, CA area. Contact us by email at or call us at (650) 435-5906 to discuss what our services can do for you.

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