Emotional support animals (ESAs) are necessary companions for many, though there are often questions about which animals can be ESAs.  Can stereotypically aggressive breeds be ESAs? Can a pitbull be an ESA? In this article, we will provide insight into whether or not pitbulls can be emotional support animals and the basic steps to ensure your ESA is able to stay by your side.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

An emotional support animal, sometimes referred to as a companion animal, provides relief from certain mental health conditions and disabilities with their presence. ESAs are not trained to help with specific disability-related tasks, and they are granted different federal and state-level protections because of this. 

You can expect your emotional support animal to be granted housing protections by the Fair Housing Act, which will excuse you from paying any pet fees, pet security deposits, or adhering to pet-related restrictions around your apartment or home.

Are There Breed Restrictions for ESAs?

Any animal can be an ESA, including animals that aren’t dogs or cats. As long as you can reasonably care for your emotional support animal within your housing unit and you have a letter attesting to your need for an emotional support animal, you will be able to take advantage of federal housing protections.

There are no breed restrictions for ESAs, and pitbulls can become emotional support animals. It’s especially helpful for pitbull owners who depend on their ESA dog for support and comfort to receive an official letter from a licensed mental healthcare provider; pitbulls are often the subject of breed restrictions in housing units, and having an officially registered ESA can ensure you keep your dog by your side no matter what.

How Can I Make My Pitbull an ESA?

If you want to make your pitbull an emotional support animal, you will need to meet with a licensed mental healthcare provider in your state. Your provider will be able to speak with you about your condition and symptoms, and if you are found to be eligible for an emotional support animal, they will draft you a letter stating this need. You can then show the letter to landlords or rental agencies to prove your need for an ESA and take advantage of your fair housing rights.

It’s important to be wary of scams and websites that offer templated ESA letters, as these will likely not qualify you for emotional support animal accommodations. Your ESA letter must be written by a licensed mental healthcare provider in your state for it to be considered legitimate.

When Your ESA Might Be Denied

After you have your pitbull registered as an emotional support animal, it’s important to keep in mind that there are still some situations in which your ESA might be denied by a landlord. Typically, your ESA will be denied because:

  • Your dog is dangerous, out of control, or aggressive
  • Your dog is destructive and creating problems on a property
  • Your dog is unable to be accommodated in your chosen housing unit, such as the unit being too small for your ESA

In most cases, well-behaved and trained animals must be granted emotional support animal accommodations, regardless of any breed or pet restrictions a landlord or rental agency has in place. If you believe you have been unfairly denied, you may need to consult the Fair Housing Act or meet with a lawyer to explore your options.

Keeping Your ESA Pitbull at Your Side

Emotional support animals are important for many people, and if you have a pitbull that supports you, comforts you, or otherwise relieves symptoms of a mental health condition or disability, you may want to officially register them as an ESA. When your pitbull is a legitimate ESA, they will be exempt from breed restrictions and pet fees, and they will easily be able to stay by your side no matter which housing unit you are in.