What You Should Know About State Laws on ESA

Emotional support animals (ESA) help people with disabilities live better lives. Although there are some federal laws that cover ESA, there are many different laws state by state by state, this article will look into those laws in Delaware. Under Delaware law, not all ESA are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act as to qualify they must have specific training. Additionally, under the state's Fair Housing Law and federal law, having an ESA should not impact you in your search for housing. Finally, with regards to Delaware's Equal Accommodations Laws, you may bring your service to any public setting without the need to show any documentation or even disclose your disability to those who ask but the laws are a little fuzzier when it comes to ESA.

This article will go over all three major topics you should know about with regards to state laws on ESA.

Definition of an ESA

Under Delaware's Equal Accommodation laws, not all ESA are defined as service animals. According to the laws, a service animal is a dog or miniature horse that has been specifically trained to perform disability-related tasks for the benefit of a person with a mental or physical disability. This includes animals that work as seeing eye, hearing, psychiatric service, allergen alert, and seizure alert animals. This also includes animals that perform tasks such as providing protection, pulling wheelchairs, picking up dropped items, or reminding their owners to take their medication.

One thing to note however is that ESA that accompany a person to provide a sense of companionship, comfort, or safety to those with psychiatric or emotional conditions, do not fall under any Delaware laws or the ADA. These animals can benefit their humans greatly and have been shown to have therapeutic benefits they are omitted because they are not trained to provide specific tasks for their owners.

Housing Laws

Many landlords may post housing vacancies with "no pets allowed" clauses but likely if you have a disability that needs accommodation this won't impact you in securing a lease. According to Delaware's Fair Housing laws, it is prohibited for landlords to discriminate against people with disabilities when renting living spaces. The law also states that landlords must make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities which means allowing someone with a service animal or ESA to stay with their owner in the rented space so they can uphold their right of equal opportunity.

To qualify for accommodation with your landlord or prospective landlord you must be able to provide documentation showing that you have a disability and you require your service animal or ESA to help alleviate the symptoms of your disability. One thing to note however is that you are still responsible for any damages caused by your animal to the property while you are renting it.

Public Accommodation

According to the Federal ADA and Delaware's Equal Accommodations Law, people with disabilities may bring their service animals to any public settings but this is not always the case for ESA. To begin a public setting is defined as any place that offers facilities, goods or services to the public which can also include anything that caters to the public or solicits from the public. In public settings owners of spaces are not required by law to make any accommodation for ESA or pets so essentially the dividing line is whether your animal has been trained to do a specific task or not.

However, when in a public setting or at venues such as stores people are not allowed to ask you about your disability or to provide any documentation about the training of your animal. On the other hand, people may ask if your animal is a service animal and which sort of task it performs. Additionally, you may not be charged any extra fees for bringing your animal into a public setting. Another thing to note is that all service animals may be prohibited from a public setting if they appear to be a direct threat to people's health and safety such as possibly diseased animals or a violent dog.

Emotional support animals can provide a sense of safety, companionship and comfort to those who live life with a disability, therefore, improving their quality of life and upholding their right to equal opportunity. If you live in Delaware there are many laws that cover service animals but ESA do not always qualify for these laws unless they have been trained to perform a specific disability-related task.

Next, according to state laws, having an ESA to assist you with your disability should cause you to be discriminated against when seeking housing. Finally, when bringing an ESA to a public setting you have the right not to disclose your disability but people have the right to bar an animal from their premises if it is not a service animal or if it poses a threat to others. If you own an ESA it's important to know your rights so keep these laws in mind so you get the most out of your accommodations.

3 min read

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get the advice you need!

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.


Dear Sadsies,

I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.

I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!

- The Armchair Psychologist

Need more armchair psychologist in your life? Check out the last installment or emailarmchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get some advice of your own!