March 7, 2016
Author: Tasha Power
Colorado House Representative Yeulin Willett (R-Grand Junction) introduced a bill on February 4, 2016 that would require certain licensed health professionals to make findings when approached by a patient seeking to have a companion or emotional support animal, defined as “an animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability.”
Specifically, HB 16-1201 would require physicians, physician assistants, anesthesiologist assistants, nurses, psychologists, social workers, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors and addition counselors to:
• Make a finding regarding whether the patient has a disability; or
• Make a finding that there is insufficient information available to make a finding regarding disability.
Notably, the health professional must meet with the patient in person before making a determination whether a patient has a disability. Many homeowners, property managers and HOAs have become all too familiar with health professionals producing letters for individuals seeking to keep an emotional support animal in a property based on an online health questionnaire. If this bill is passed, an individual will no longer be able to obtain a letter from a health provider regarding the need for an emotional support animal sight unseen. This bill has important implications for individuals, owners, property managers and HOAs.
We will continue to monitor this important bill, and provide updates here on our blog.
This article is intended to provide general information and, therefore, should not be treated as legal advice. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney.