Emotional Support Animals

Does anyone know about emotional support animals and Type 1 diabetes? I’m trying to get the city off my back about having chickens for my Type 1 diabetic daughter. We have them for their eggs and for her no carb meals and snacks and for her as pets.

I believe there are formal procedures to go through to have an animal qualified as a service animal, and that probably varies by location; so you could start by checking with your local health department for local guidelines. The Americans with Disabilities Act might have some helpful information about the overall process as well.
I’ve heard that many people have gotten false documentation online to have their pets classified, although the pet didn’t have the temperament etc to be considered a service animal and did not behave as a true one would - sometimes causing damage; so be prepared to give a compelling case. There’s a lot more to it than a pet being helpful and keeping you calm - my dog does that but she’s aggressive with other dogs so she wouldn’t qualify. I hate to be discouraging but just want you to know what you may be up against, even though a chicken is very different than a staffordshire terrier.
I hope you’re able to find some guidance.

Welcome to the forum Jacqueline. This is an interesting question for sure. There are a number of factors that need to be considered in this situation. First is if you live within city limits and if city ordinances allow farm animals to be raised in neighborhoods. If you live in a housing development there are home owner association rules etc. Second could be complaints from neighbors due to smells, disposal of manure, and noises like roosters crowing early in the morning etc, You need to research what laws and rules pertaining to the area in which you live if farm animals are permitted and if permits are available for fees like dog licenses after meeting the ownership criteria and passing inspections, etc. It may come to a legal battle and talking to a lawyer maybe needed. I hope you are able to resolve your situation on your daughters behalf, good luck.

There’s no national standard for emotional support animals. It varies widely by state.

Federally, we only recognize disability service animals, which are highly trained dogs (or, in rare cases, small horses) who must pass a test proving that they will behave appropriately to take care of their owner while not making a nuisance of themselves in public (even if they see another dog, a stranger acts inappropriately towards them, there’s food within reach, a squirrel runs by, the person’s mobility aid clatters to the ground or falls on top of the dog, etc.). It takes intense (and expensive) training starting when the animal is just a few weeks old. Access to public areas that do not otherwise allow dogs is legally guaranteed, but that right can be threatened when people falsely claim their dog is a trained service animal, only to have it misbehave. Or when people conflate service dogs with other categories.

Most states also recognize therapy dogs (and sometimes other animals). These are animals who are trained to safely navigate hospitals and nursing homes while behaving properly. Therapy dogs are certified as part of a team with a specific handler, and every team must be tested. (When I got my dog certified as a therapy dog, both Mom and I had to take the same test with him, to prove that we knew our part and that he’d respond appropriately to our specific commands.) Therapy dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, and sick patients at home along with their handlers to help cheer up patients going through hard times. They do not have any special privileges besides being allowed access to hospital settings by arranged appointment. Abusing your therapy dog license to bamboozle people into letting you bring your dog with you is dangerous and harmful and can get your license revoked.

Emotional support animals are entirely different. Many states do not recognize them at all. Some do, but have certification requirements, such as a note from a qualified therapist certified to practice in the state. Some have lists of animals that are allowed (or disallowed). Emotional support animals are glorified pets. They do not get any special training or testing. They generally do not have any special rights or privileges. However, some more progressive states (such as California) have very open-ended laws which allow you to just declare your pet an emotional support animal and bring it with you to places pets are not normally allowed (with some limitations). Even so, emotional support animals are not service animals, and conflating the two does real harm to people with highly trained service animals that they genuinely need in order to safely access the world.

So, to answer your question: Look up your state laws and see what they say about emotional support animals. However, unless you’re in California, odds are your city is right and you can’t just declare that you have a legal right to keep chickens on property that’s not zoned/approved for farming just because your daughter is diabetic.

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Thanks @WearsHats for the detailed and concise explanations of the types of specialized animals and the differences between them. I learned a lot - thanks again.

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Hi @Jgfarbs01 . I thought I would check in and see if you’ve had a chance to do any research and what you’ve found.
Based on the thorough information provided by @WearsHats I’m wondering if it might be more feasible to find a more traditional pet to give your daughter emotional support. It may be your local zoning ordinances supercede the type of service your chickens provide, despite how much comfort they give her.
If you don’t mind my asking, how old is your daughter and how long has she had Type1? Some kids when diagnosed take time to barely begin to adjust, while others start out as young warriors ready to take on the challenge as best they can, right from the start. Regardless of her age and where she falls on the “warrior scale,” some people find it helpful to get counseling - even people who have been living with it for years.
And finding friends who share Type1 can be helpful too. I sometimes suggest checking with the school nurse - while HIPAA probably does not allow them to give you someone else’s information, if you’re willing you could share yours. And who knows - friendships might spark in the waiting room at the endo’s office.