Do Restaurants Need to Allow Emotional Support Animals?

Animals inside restaurants have always been a point of controversy. On one hand, many find the concept of pets inside food places unappealing. However, emotional support animals are a different story. There are not as many of them, and they help their owners stay calm in public spaces. Do restaurants need to allow emotional support animals?

Even though many are against it, emotional support animals should be allowed inside restaurants. They prevent emotional disaster, are well-behaved if they’re emotional support animals, and certification is required for these pups. Regulation is possible.

Read on to learn more about emotional support animals and food service locations. We’ll talk about the reasons restaurants should include emotional support animals on their list of guests. There’s more good that comes with these supportive animals than there is bad, so states should move to include them in those welcome.

Why Restaurants Need to Allow Emotional Support Animals

There are several reasons why emotional support animals should be allowed inside restaurants. It’s critical to understand these, even if you don’t agree with this side of the argument. There are some excellent points for the case of permitting emotional support animals inside places of eating.

A few of the reasons restaurants should allow emotional support animals include:

  • Disaster prevention

  • They’re well-behaved

  • Most need certification

Many will benefit from the inclusion of these pets, as they can make an outside-the-home experience comforting, rather than scary.

We’ll dive more into detail about these arguments below. Read on to learn more about the need for emotional support animals in restaurants, and why restrictions should change to include these pets along with service animals.

They Prevent Disaster

Emotional support animals can help prevent disasters from occurring. They’re there to stand strong when the people they help can’t. This action can both keep the peace inside a public eatery, and spare the distressed individual from suffering in front of watchful eyes in public. An emotional support animal is a win for both the owner and the establishment.

An emotional support animal can help free their owner from:

  • Panic attacks: Panic attacks can come on in populated situations, and restaurants are primary places that have lots of people.

  • Anxiety: Anxiety can spring up in restaurants. Emotional support pets can guide their owners through this, keeping them away from panic attacks as much as they can.

  • Phobias: Emotional support animals can help their owners deal with severe phobias they may have, which could be triggered in a restaurant setting.

Without emotional support animals, certain people are at high risk for these issues. They might even avoid eating out specifically for these reasons.

Emotional support animals are not pets, they are companions. Those who need these animals in their lives need them in every aspect of their day. It makes sense to include restaurants as part of that. Emotional support animals will do more good than they will harm if they’re allowed to stay with the people they take care of every day of their lives. It’s their purpose.

They Are Well-Behaved

If an animal is an emotional support animal, it’ll be well-behaved compared to other animals people have as pets. Thus, they should sit quietly by the side of the table while their people eat their meal. There’s no more they need to do. If an emotional support animal can’t do this task, it shouldn’t be allowed to go to the eatery.

Well-behaved emotional support animals should at least be permitted to sit outside if the place of eating has an outdoor seating option. They can lie at the feet of their owners, watching and waiting in case something happens that requires their attention. A good emotional support pet behaves like a service dog – they wait attentively until they are needed.

Certification is Required

For many animals, certification is required to prove that they’re emotional support animals. If a person still feels uncomfortable allowing a pet in their establishment, you can provide proof of the pet’s job. Certification requirements can separate the real support pets from those who are just pretending. 

With the requirement of certification, a restaurant can help separate pretend emotional service  animals from those who have the label on their pet just for kicks. As mentioned above, a good service pet will be well-behaved. They should have the ability to sit inside or outside a restaurant without causing trouble, unlike regular pets.

Have Any Locations Allowed Emotional Support Animals?

So, are there any places that have made the jump and permit emotional support animals inside their establishment? Several places have determined service dogs and other animals should not be banned from public eating spaces. Each of these is thriving in a whole new way.

A few of the states that have moved to become more accepting of emotional service animals include:

  • California

  • Florida

  • Maryland

  • New York 

  • New Jersey

Consider these states if your emotional service animal is a crucial part of how you live your life.

Of course, the hope is that all states will become more accepting of pets that help their owners survive in the world. Emotional support animals keep people going who would otherwise be stuck inside their homes, afraid to go outside. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy restaurants. Service animals should include emotional support animals. They serve the best treatment.


Of course, you can come to your conclusion about emotional support animals in restaurants. There are reasons against their inclusion in this world, but there are plenty more for them. They serve as companions and safe-keepers of the people they need to support, providing a cushion in a stressful, overwhelming environment.

In the United States, counties find themselves divided on what they want to do about dogs, cats, and other emotional support animals inside public eateries. Only time will tell what the final verdict will be on these animals. Until then, all you can do is abide by rules placed by individual counties.

Also read: Where Do Cats Sleep in a Cat Cafe?


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