Home » House Bill 1635 : Tennessee Laws Put A Ban On ESA Entry To Restaurants And Hotels?

House Bill 1635: Tennessee Laws Put A Ban On ESA Entry To Restaurants And Hotels?

Published on March 22, 2023 by Darren Jorgensen

A recent decision from the government of Tennessee bans Emotional Support Animals inside restaurants,  hotels, and other indoor food service establishments. 

Highlights

  • Governor Bill Lee signed House Bill 1635
  • What is the Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal?
  • What Are The New Tennessee ESA Laws For ESA Owners?
  • In Which Areas Are Emotional Support Animals Still Allowed In Tennessee?
emotional support animal in restaurants

What is House Bill 1635?

On March 15, Governor Bill Lee signed House Bill 1635 into law, forbidding the Emotional Support Animals access to indoor areas of ‘food service establishments’. The bill draws a clear line, allowing only animals that either are trained or are in the process of training to aid people with disabilities inside restaurants, hotels, and other indoor food service establishments.

Fish kept in tanks, certified service dogs, and police K-9s remain the exception and are still allowed into restaurants. However, owners of untrained Emotional Support Animals will need to leave their furry companions at home.

This distinction emphasizes the importance of training and certification for animals assisting individuals in public spaces. Moreover, Tennessee law has already banned most dogs inside buildings that prepare or serve food. House Bill 1635 extended that ban to include Emotional Support Animals.

The bill states, “Live animals are permitted in indoor areas of food service establishments in the following situations if the owner or operator of the food service establishment does not permit live animals to physically contact food, serving dishes, utensils, tableware, linens, unwrapped single-service and single-use articles, or other food service items that may result in contamination of food or food-contact surfaces and does not permit live animals to physically contact employees engaged in the preparation or handling of food.”

The signing of this bill has sparked mixed reactions among the Tennessee residents. While some applauded the move, others expressed disappointment.

Alexis Delmar, the owner of a certified Emotional Support Animal, says. “I feel like. Generally, people only bring their dogs in if they know that they’re well-behaved, and most often, emotional support animals are.

I’m hopeful that a lot of the places we typically go to will stand up to this and say we’ll continue to allow it as a business owner.”

What is the Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal?

While Emotional Support Animals are typically used for people suffering from emotional or mental health conditions, they are not required to be trained to go out in public spaces, compared to service dogs, which are usually put through training to be protected by federal law that gives them access to public settings.

What Are The New Tennessee ESA Laws For ESA Owners?

For owners of Emotional Support Animals in Tennessee, this bill signals a shift in how ESAs are recognized in public establishments. The inability to bring ESAs into restaurants highlights the need for awareness and understanding of the differences between Emotional Support Animals and service animals.

It also underscores the importance of proper training for those animals that can qualify as service animals. Nevertheless, Tennessee residents can still enjoy the companionship of their little furry friend in rental homes provided with a Tennessee Esa Letter.

In Which Areas Are Emotional Support Animals Still Allowed In Tennessee?

In Tennessee, the Fair Housing Amendment Act protects the rights of Emotional Support Animal owners. This act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities and their pets. It also directs property owners to amend their policies and accept reasonable accommodation requests from persons with disabilities.

The FHA overrides all landlord policies, including the no-pet policy. It also removes weight, size, age, and breed restrictions. Additionally, allowing an Emotional Support Animal does not require training.

This helps you access places like Airbnb, rental apartments, and college dorms, which are considered dwellings under the Fair Housing Act. However, it is notable that the FHA does not protect ESA rights in the workplace. This means you cannot bring your Emotional Support Animal to your workplace, as employers are not obliged to allow ESAs in work areas. Therefore, it is advisable to obtain permission from the employer.

Posted in: News

About the Author

Patricia Thompson
Darren Jorgensen
Darren M. Jorgensen has a fondness for all animals, though dogs especially, have a huge home in his heart. He enjoys quilting, making handcrafted soap and bodyworks and anything that produces practical products. Jorgensen lives with his own service dog who doubles as an Emotional Support Animal. He gets it.

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