North Carolina Landlords and Emotional Support Animals vs Service Animals

Chatham County Property Manager Eric Andrews Explains why landlords accept service dogs but most deny emotional support animals. Emotional Support Animals VS Service Animals.

Interviewer:                       What’s the difference between service animals and emotional support animals?

Speaker 2:                           Emotional. Yeah. So that’s a big to-do in the world of real estate and property management, because we have a lot of landlords that say, “No pets.” The service animal is not a pet. And I’m sure people would that an emotional support animal is not a pet either. The service animals are protected by the American Disabilities Act. And so a landlord cannot prohibit someone from renting their property. If they have a no-pet policy, and that tenant has a service animal. I mean, service animal is-

Interviewer:                       Certified.

Speaker 2:                           Certified, but it is performing a genuine service as far as helping a blind person get around, or someone that doesn’t have full use of their legs or their arms and getting things, retrieving things for them. So service animal is much, much different.

Yeah. Service animal is registered. The emotional support animals were registered too, but it got to the point where a therapist, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a general physician, a dermatologist could write a letter and say, “You need this emotional support animal.” So abuses were starting to happen. And anybody that wanted a pet was just getting one of these letters. We had a horrible situation where a family lost their house due to fire, and they had two dogs, a cat, and a ferret. It was a husband and wife, a son and a daughter. Well, each got registered those animals as an emotional support animal. So we had a ferret register as an emotional support, and I don’t have anything against ferrets. And I don’t have anything against cats. I mean, I own cats myself. They’re outdoor cats, but I own cats. Cats and ferrets can mark their territory in a house and they can get into the sub flooring.

And it is very expensive to the landlords. Dogs do damage, but dogs do different kinds of damage. Kind of damage that a cat does marking its territory, when it gets into the sub flooring, it’s disastrous to the landlord. So, that’s something we need to be careful about. And of course, I’m sure people have emotional support animals that are cats, but I’ve never seen a cat as a service animal. I don’t know if anybody can get cats to do anything for them, but, and so I think where it really hit the fan last year, is there was a flight and a guy had a peacock as an emotional support animal. And finally the transit authority and the airlines has said, “Enough already.” And so, somebody pushes it too far. I’m sure that there are people that are, that… I’m sure we have veterans that are suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome. And I think there are people that genuinely need emotional support animals, but in the world of real estate and the world of property management, it has to be a genuine service animal to get beyond the no-pet situation.