For some people, having a single emotional support dog may not be enough. Their needs could be too great for a lone dog to handle or their lifestyle or circumstances may require different emotional support dogs at different times or for different situations. But can you have more than 1 emotional support dog? The answer, in short, is yes—but with some definite caveats and restrictions.
How Many Emotional Support Dogs Can a Person Have?
There are no explicit rules in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) or Fair Housing Act (FHA) dictating a maximum number of emotional support dogs (or any emotional support animals, for that matter) that a person may have. The dog must simply not violate any local or state laws. Beyond that are some other basic rules and guidelines for having more than one emotional support dog.
Rules and Restrictions for Having More Than One Emotional Support Dog
Your doctor, therapist or LMHP should be in agreement that having more than one emotional support dog would serve you better than having just one. Having more than one emotional support dog should also be reasonable. For example, you may not be want to have a great dane and a St. Bernard as your two emotional support dogs living together in a studio apartment. The health and well-being of your emotional support dogs is also a factor in whether or not having more than one is appropriate for you. You need to be able to afford to take care of each one of your emotional support dogs properly, including feeding, grooming and licensing it and taking it to the vet for regular check-ups and shots, and you need to have the time and energy to take care of each one, such as taking it for walks and giving it love and affection. What’s more, you need to be prepared for the random, periodic, spontaneous needs that could arise with an animal at any time, such as an illness, injury or other medical emergency, or if you need to go somewhere you can’t bring your dogs and so have to board them.
Especially if you live on a fixed income or you share a small home with a lot of people, even one emotional support dog could be a lot to manage, let alone more than one. Remember, as well, that you are always responsible for the actions of your emotional support dog whenever exercising your right to fly with them on a plane or live with them in housing. You, therefore, need to take into account the potential additional cost this may place on you with each additional emotional support dog you have. So, before deciding how many emotional support dogs you need, make sure to consider how you’re going to pay for and take care of each one, and how appropriate it is for you to have the number and type of emotional support animals you desire in your particular living situation and lifestyle.
Can You Take More Than One Emotional Support Dog on a Plane?
One of the two places where emotional support dogs are allowed that pet dogs are not allowed is in cabin on airplanes. And even when pet dogs are allowed in cabin on an airplane, the owner of an emotional support dog does not need to pay any pet fee, deposit or extra ticket costs for that dog. So can you have more than 1 emotional support dog on a plane? According to recent updates to Department of Transportation rules, an airline is now allowed to limit the number of emotional support dogs it allows you to fly with. It cannot refuse a qualified individual at least one emotional support dog on board with him or her, however.
An airline, alternatively, could choose to limit the number of emotional support and service dogs allowed on any given flight, based on factors like the type of plane and the itinerary or flight route, without limiting the number of those animals any individual passenger may bring with them. If an airline allows a passenger to fly with two carry-on items, for example, and counts emotional support dogs as a single carry-on item, it could conceivably allow a passenger to bring two emotional supports (and no other carry-on items) on board without incurring any additional fee, as long as it doesn’t push the flight over the quota of service and support animals allowed on that flight. The best way to be sure whether you can bring more than one emotional support dog on a particular flight with you, and if so, how many emotional support dogs you can bring, is to contact the airline and inquire. If you have not yet booked your tickets, you could ask the agent to help you find an itinerary to book, perhaps, that would allow you to fly with more than one emotional support dog.
Flying with More Than One Service Dog
Note as well that you are allowed to fly with up to three service animals on a flight. Therefore, if you are able to get authorization for at least one of your dogs to be a service animal, this could be a way you could bring more than one of your dogs with you on a flight. To have a service dog however, you must have a physical disability, not just a mental or emotional one, and the dog must be trained to perform certain specific tasks for you to compensate for your disability. It is much harder to get authorization for a service dog than an emotional support dog, and a service dog must be identified, whereas pretty much any dog that is well-behaved and current on its shots can be an emotional support dog.
Can You Live With More Than One Emotional Support Dog in Your Home?
The other place where emotional support dogs are allowed, even when pet dogs are not, is in housing. According to the FHA, a landlord is required to make reasonable accommodations for your emotional support dog. If you have more than one emotional support dog, the landlord is equally liable to make accommodations for each one. That includes allowing each of your emotional support animals full access to facilities, including any shared yard and common areas. Emotional support dogs are not allowed in swimming pools, however, or in any other area where it would violate health and safety codes.
That said, the more emotional support dogs you have, the easier it may be for a landlord to make a legitimate claim that accommodating your need fully would pose an unreasonable burden to the landlord. If, for example, your dogs are particularly loud in a small and quiet building, this could lead the landlord to lose other tenants, thereby harming his or her ability to maintain the property.
What to Do If a Landlord Refuses to Let You Have More Than One Emotional Support Dog in Your Home
If a landlord refuses to allow you to live with more than one emotional support dog, you can file a complaint with your local department of housing. The landlord will then be required to make his or her case for refusing you under the reasonable accommodation clause. If the landlord’s argument is found reasonable, he or she may be allowed to reject your request to live with more than one emotional support dog. If, however, the landlord’s argument is found unreasonable, then the DOT will require him or her to make those accommodations for both (or all) of your emotional support dogs.
How To Have More Than One Emotional Support Dog?
So, if you can’t always bring more than one emotional support dog on a plane with you and you can’t necessarily live with more than one emotional support dog in dog-free housing, the question becomes, of course, how do you have more than one emotional support dog?
The answer, this time, is a bit more involved. The only legal authority you need to be recognized as having an emotional support dog is a valid and legitimate ESA letter. This letter must be from a physician or licensed mental health practitioner in your state of residence and it must state both that you have a mental or emotional disability that impairs your ability to engage in certain activities like air travel or housing rental and that an emotional support dog may be an effective medical tool to help you engage in those activities. Also to be valid and legitimate, the ESA letter must be printed on the official letterhead of that physician or LMHP and signed and dated by that individual within one year of the time you are planning to use it for travel or housing. What an ESA letter is not required to state, however, is the name, breed or number of your emotional support dogs.
Look at it this way: your emotional support dog is not the one being authorized, you are. You are receiving authorization to have an emotional support dog. That dog is not required to be named, identified or described anywhere in that authorization. That means you can have one emotional support dog out with you one day and a different emotional support dog out with you another day. Or you can have one emotional support dog live with you and another emotional support dog travel with you. Or you can have one emotional support dog in the daytime and another at night. Or one that always stays at home and one that goes out with you everywhere. However you decide that it works best for you to divide it, you have the utmost freedom to do so with that same ESA letter.
You do not need to get a separate ESA letter for each emotional support dog, because it’s not the dog’s letter, it’s yours. Likewise, you do not need to get a new ESA letter each time you get a new emotional support dog.
Benefits of Registering Your Emotional Support Dogs
To be clear, there is absolutely no legal requirement for you to register your emotional support dog. There isn’t even a single, authoritative, government-run emotional support dog registration service or institution available. Rather, different companies like Certifymypet offer their own registration services. While these are not required to have one or more emotional support dogs, they can be very helpful, especially when having more than one emotional support dog. ESA registration such as Certifymypet offers includes listing for not just you but for each of your emotional support dogs as well in a secure database. If a landlord or airline agent wants to verify your claim that your dogs are emotional support dogs, he or she can call someone at Certifymypet to look up your registration and confirm that, indeed, you are authorized for an emotional support dog.
What’s more, he or she can verify that you have more than one emotional support dog and confirm that the dogs in question are the same as those present before him or her. Emotional support dog registration for each of your dogs also provides each one an identifying vest (again, not required but helpful), certificate and ID cards. Registering an emotional support dog can help make the process of exercising your rights to have an emotional support dog much faster and easier. That benefit of ESA registration is made manifold when you have multiple emotional support dogs.
Tips for Having More Than One Emotional Support Dog
Having multiple emotional support dogs is similar, in many ways, to having multiple pet dogs. You need to make sure each one is attended to like it was your only dog, and you need to make sure all your dogs behave well together. To these ends, make sure you have enough time to give quality, focused love and attention to each of your emotional support dogs and make sure you socialize each one with the others or, alternatively, train them to behave regardless of whether they interact. Avoid creating jealousy between the dogs. One way to do this is by giving each one his or her own kennel or carrier, which again, is another cost-consideration for living and traveling with more than one emotional support dog.