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The In’s and Out’s of Hotel Policies & Emotional Support Animals

ESA Pets & Hotel Laws

Wondering if you can bring your emotional support animal inside a hotel? You’re not alone. Take this 3 question quiz below to find out if your pet is allowed inside the hotel.


Animals share a special bond with humans, and this can be traced back thousands of years. This human-animal relationship has had a significant impact on our lifestyles. Take dogs for instance- these creatures impact our lives in incredible ways; from boosting our moods to warding off anxiety and other health problems.

It is therefore not surprising that emotional support animals (ESA) are being preferred to antidepressants. The undying loyalty, love, affection, and warmth that these animals provide, brings a calming effect that cannot be obtained from conventional medications. However, a challenge that people are facing is failing to understand the laws governing ESAs. One of the things that people don’t know is that emotional support animals are not allowed in every establishment. This article sheds more light on ESA hotel laws and other policies surrounding ESAs.

Pet Friendly Hotels

First, let’s start off by saying that all pets (including emotional support animals) are not legally allowed to be in hotels.  Put more simply, a hotel can legally deny your emotional support animal from entering their establishment.

However – there are more and more major hotel chains updating their pet policies to accommodate guests who may be traveling with an ESA.  One common factor between these newly reformed policies almost all major hotels highly recommend is that your emotional support animal wear a vest identifying them as such.  That’s a pretty simple and inexpensive rule to follow consider you can purchase these types of vests online for under $50.

In light of these new policy shifts – we recommend adhering to the hotels recommendation by purchasing an vest for your pet. This will save hassle and time while checking in.

You can purchase a quality ESA Identity Kit & Vest for your emotional support animal through this link. 

List of Current Pet Friendly Hotels

Please keep in mind that important to call the specific hotel you’ll be staying at ensure they truly are pet friendly.

  • Best Western
  • Candlewood Suites
  • Clarion Inns & Suites
  • Comfort Inn
  • Comfort Suites
  • Courtyard Marriott
  • Econo Lodge
  • Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
  • Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
  • Holiday Inn
  • Kimpton Hotels
  • La Quinta
  • Motel 6
  • Red Roof Inn
  • Quality Inn



The Difference between an Therapy Dog and a Service Dog

The problem arises from the fact that most people cannot differentiate an ESA from a service animal. Under federal law, an emotional support animal is defined as a “reasonable accommodation” for persons diagnosed with mental health problems. Put simply, these animals are used as part of a medical treatment program, whereby they provide therapeutic benefits to individuals with psychiatric disabilities and mental impairments. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), these creatures are not regarded as service animals and they do not need to be trained. Emotional support dogs sole purpose is to provide comfort and support to their owners.  

In contrast, a service animal is a dog or other creature, which has been trained to perform tasks for persons with disabilities. This includes activities such as pulling a wheelchair, guiding visually impaired persons as well as calming people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

One thing you should note about service dogs is that they have access to any location or building that their owner walks into. Ideally, they have the liberty to accompany their owners to public areas; be it a local government building, business, public transportation among others. The law that permits service dogs to accompany their owners is the ADA.

Access to Public Areas

Considering the fact that ESAs do not undergo any professional training, they are treated differently from service animals. It means that ADA laws do not protect emotional support animals. As such, these animals are prohibited from accessing public places including movie theaters, hospitals, and hotels.

The Laws Protecting ESAs

Emotional support animals are protected by federal law in two main ways:

  • The Fair Housing Amendment Act (FHAA) stipulates that ESAs are permitted in no-pet housing.
  • ESAs are permitted to fly in-cabin on any U.S. flight; this includes flights within the United States and flights from overseas.

To put it simply; no landlord has a right to deny you housing because you have an emotional support animal. Similarly, disabled persons with ESAs cannot be denied flights within the U.S.

For clarity, the FHA act has explained the type of housing implied under the first law. This includes houses for sale or rent and they range from apartments to condos and single-family homes. But, there are a couple of exceptions such as buildings with fewer than four units whereby the landlord resides in one of the units. Another exception entails houses operated by corporations and private clubs, which restrict the number of occupants.

see if you qualify button

Emotional Support Animal Hotel Laws

Unfortunately, emotional support animals are prohibited from hotels, motels, restaurants, and other business areas, especially if the respective owners raise concerns regarding them. The reason for this is that hotels and motels are temporary housing so they do not fall under the category of residences described in the Fair Housing Amendment Act.

If you intend to travel with your ESA, you should contact the hotel manager in advance and inquire whether they have any restrictions on ESA. However, pets policy differ from one hotel to another. Some hotel owners may allow you to bring your therapy dogs along. However, they may charge you additional fees for this.

But many hotel owners have begun embracing the role of an emotional support animal. It explains why more of these hotel managers have switched to providing pet-friendly hotels and amenities.

Qualifying your Pet as a Therapy Animal

If you have a mental disability and are considering making your pet an emotional support animal, there are several things you’ll need to do. Firstly, you should should see if you qualify by taking this quick survey

Also, keep in mind that dogs and cats are the most protected as ESAs. Some airlines prohibit clients from bringing other types of animals in the name of ESAs. This is regardless of whether you have a certified letter or not.

The Takeaway

Have you ever walked into a hotel expecting to get top-notch accommodation services only to be denied access because you brought your emotional support animal with you? If you thought that the hotel manager was at fault, then you’re wrong. He or she may have been unfair but it was in their legal right to do so. Emotional support animals are not allowed in hotels unless it’s a pet-friendly establishment.

Since these animals have not undergone any professional training, a couple of hotels have pet policies restricting access to ESA. To avoid being disappointed, you should always call in advance and find out more about their pet policy. If you cannot find a pet-friendly hotel, you should consider leaving your furry friend behind. Nonetheless, there are laws that protect individuals with disabilities and their ESA. For one, you should not be denied housing rights just because you have a therapy dog. Secondly, traveling with an emotional support dog is permitted by airline carriers. In both cases, you should not have to pay any additional fees for your pet. All you need to do is to prove that your pet is an emotional support animal is by presenting a note (commonly called a letter) from your physician.

emotional support dog vests