Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about your individual situation it is best to seek the advice of an experienced legal professional.

More and more people are turning to emotional support animals for good reason. Animals help people access a deeper healing to tackle emotional, psychological and physical trauma. The presence of animals can be a lifeline for people with deep trauma. However, it is often up to the discretion of businesses – restaurants, gyms, offices – as to whether your emotional support animal can join you in every-day activities. At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we recognize that animals are stakeholders in our culture. We believe peaceful co-existence of humans and animals has a benefit for all. Often people’s first reactions to animals emerge from instinctual and ill-considered prejudices, which are likely to cause conflict. We use psychological tools to examine the roots of these prejudices and other scientific tools, such as game theory, to fairly analyze and resolve interests.

Emotional Support Animals vs. Service Animals

Many misunderstandings begin with the difference between emotional support animals and service animals. People are familiar with (and more comfortable with) the concept of service animals: animals who are trained as helpers who can do specific tasks. Emotional Support Animals, on the other hand, are certified by a medical professional, but are not trained. Because of this, they are not automatically allowed in public places. The Fair Housing Act considers emotional support animals to be “fair accommodation” so long as they fulfill certain criteria. BUT there are exceptions to this: not all dwellings are covered under the Fair Housing Act. Unlike service animals, there are many more pitfalls you can encounter when finding accommodation for your emotional support animal.

Combat Prejudice and Alleviate Emotional Distress with Mediation

In addition, people with disabilities or illnesses face prejudices about their condition. It can be a real battle to get people to respect psychological illnesses, such as PTSD, that don’t leave obvious scars. Then there are the variety of physical illness emotional support animals can help to relieve. People recovering from an operation or people with chronic pain can depend on emotional support animals. Some, but not all of these illnesses are invisible.

When you are already suffering from a disability or emotional distress, the last thing you need is conflict, but unfortunately you might face it if you have an emotional support animal. If you’re a business owner or a landlord, the category of emotional support animal can be a confusing one, and you might misunderstand why it’s so important for a person with a disability. Assumptions can be damaging and lead to conflict. Mediation smooths out misunderstandings from the get-go. One huge value of mediation, especially if it involves multiple parties or community influencers, is that it can be educational. Conflict resolved by mediation between an individual and restaurant owners and managers for example can pave the way for a more compassionate policy for people with emotional support animals. Or, it can formalize an informal policy that might be ripe for conflict.

How We Can Help

At Boileau Conflict Solutions we are a group of caring and well-educated mediators and negotiators with financial, legal and psychological backgrounds. We handle disputes using a set of unique approaches informed by game theory, communication theory, psychoanalysis and the law. Key to our approach is recognizing all interests involved in a dispute and moving towards a sustainable solution that respects all life interests. We value non-violent resolutions if at all possible and can intervene in urgent situations and can prevent harm to animals by facilitating alternative solutions to animal control etc. Mediation is a cheaper, more flexible alternative to litigation and is the only way animals’ rights can be considered in conflict resolution. We are available seven days a week and at urgent notice at our offices in Boulder, CO, Irvine, CA, Campbell, CA and LA. We can also be reached via Zoom, Facetime and Telephone and conflict resolution can also be arranged remotely. Please contact us now to see how we can help.

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