If you rent an apartment or housing in Austin and find yourself suffering from various mental health ailments such as depression, loneliness, anxiety, PTSD, bereavement, or other issues, you might qualify for keeping an emotional support animal or ESA with you. ESAs can be dogs, cats, birds, or other animals. Your right to have an emotional support animal in Austin is federally protected by the ADA (Americans for Disability Act), HUD (Housing and Urban Development), and the FHA (Fair Housing Act). And Austin landlords, by law, cannot refuse to let you house an emotional support animal, assuming you have a letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). As an LMHP, I start with an evaluation process and provide a letter to your landlord as well as any follow-up communications to prevent any discrimination from occurring with your ESA.
I also help with psychiatric service dog letters, if your landlord asks for one. Usually, they will do this if your mental health disability is not obvious. The specific requirements to qualify for this, however, are different from emotional support animals (see below), and these include training, certifications, and other steps.
One thing I always recommend to clients who are seeking an ESA letter or Service Dog letter in Texas is making sure they choose a provider who understands Texas laws and rules. Laws in Texas may vary from other states because there are federal, state, and local guidelines to follow. I also practice in other Texas cities, which some Texas landlords require. I also see people with other mental health needs at my counseling practice., and I am easy to get a hold of personally via email, call or text.
My Austin address is:
Emotional Support Animals of Texas
Attn: Miki Tesh, PhD, LCSW, LMHP
2306 Lake Austin Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
The Difference Between ESAs and Service Dogs in Austin
An emotional support animal and a psychiatric service dog are not classified in the same way under the law in Texas, or in particular, Austin, Texas. What’s the difference?
A psychiatric service dog is specifically trained, by yourself or a professional, to complete a task or attend to a need related to a mental health disability.
On the other hand, an emotional support animal or ESA does not have to be specially trained, can be any type of animal (dog, cat, bird…etc.). And a person can have more than one emotional support animal. In Austin and the rest of Texas, the requirements for the two types are very different. Though, in each case, a landlord may require a letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP), like us. If you do qualify for a psychiatric service dog (PSD) and have a dog that has been trained – see more PSD requirements here – you should be allowed to bring the dog into:
- Rental housing in Austin
- Public places in Austin, a right that’s covered under the ADA
- Austin hotels, as service dogs are allowed to stay under ADA rules.
- Airlines that fly in and out of Austin
By contrast, an emotional support animal letter, by law, only provides for fair housing in terms of rentals in the city and other parts of Texas. Public places in Austin are not under the same FHA laws as housing, therefore don’t need to comply with ESAs. As for Austin hotels, it’s also up to their discretion to allow an ESA. Also, only a few airlines that fly in and out of the area will recognize an ESA.
In either case of an ESA or psychiatric service dog, it’s helpful to get a letter from an LMHP like me, as landlords, in particular, can require it if your mental health condition is not obvious. You can get started with either process here:
Austin Animal Shelters: Where to Find an ESA
Any number of different types of animals might qualify as an ESA, but most typically Austin area renters get emotional support from dogs, cats, or birds.
If you already have an animal – remember emotional support animals are not considered “pets” by law as they fall into a different category – they could become your ESA. If not, we always recommend supporting non-profit organizations or animal shelters in the Austin area, which always look to rehouse their animal populations.
Indeed, my passion is helping animal rescues. I support the following local animal shelters in the Austin area:
- Austin Pets Alive!: 1156 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78703, 512-961-6519
- Austin Animal Center, A, 7201 Levander Loop, Austin, TX 78702, 512-974-2000
- Austin Humane Society, 124 W Anderson Ln., Austin, TX 78752, 512-646-7387
- Gold Ribbon Rescue, 1101 W 34th St, Austin, TX 78705, 512-659-4653
- APA! Tarrytown Cattery, 3106 Windsor Rd, Austin, TX 78703
Things to Do With Dogs and Cats in the Austin Area
Whether you have an ESA or a service dog in Austin, it’s important to keep them happy as their owner. We know most of the common animals are dogs and cats. So, here are a few places, in particular, you can take them in the local area. First, here is a list of great Austin dog parks:
- Hancock Dog Park: 3307 Kim Ln, Austin, TX 78705
- Red Bud Isle: 3401 Redbud Trail, Austin, TX 78746
- Mueller Run Dog Park: 2200 Aldrich St Suite 120, Austin, TX 78723
- West Austin Neighborhood Park: 1317 W 10th St, Austin, TX 78703
- Shoal Creek Greenbelt: 2600 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78705
- Triangle Commons Pocket Park: 722 W 46th St, Austin, TX 78751
- Auditorium Shores Dog Park: 900 W Riverside Dr, Austin, TX 78704
- Great Northern Dog Park: 7099 Great Northern Blvd, Austin, TX 78757
- Norwood Estate Dog Park: 1009 Edgecliff Terrace, Austin, TX 78704
- Dog Launch at Vic Matias Shores: 920 E Riverside Dr, Austin, TX 78704
- Cherrywood Pocket Park: 1600 E 34th St, Austin, TX 78722
- Pepe’s Park: 414 Attayac St, Austin, TX 78702
Next, here is a list of things you can do with your cats in the Austin area:
- As the Fur Flies Austin, 730 W Stassney Ln Suite 149, Austin, TX 78745, a luxury cat (and dog) day spa.
- Fur Oak Professional Pet Grooming, 8650 Spicewood Springs Rd Suite #203, Austin, TX 78759, grooming services for cats and dogs.
- La Paz Mobile Cat Grooming, 3116 Silkgrass Bend, Austin, TX 78748, high-end, specialized cat grooming.
My goal is to provide an affordable ESA letter and service dog letter to renters in Austin. Start the process at any time or feel free to contact me with questions:
Other Texas Cities I Serve
I serve the entire state of Texas for my mental health practice but have locations in the following major cities: