Livestock emotional support animals
In October 2018, the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw was amended to allow citizens to keep a Livestock Emotional Support Animal (LESA) on their property once their permit application is approved. The City’s permit process for LESAs balances the needs and emotional well-being of Calgarians with the welfare and appropriate care of animals, while also considering the realities of living in an urban environment.
- You must be 18 years of age or older to apply for a permit. If under 18, a parent or guardian must apply for a LESA permit on your behalf.
- Do not purchase or acquire a LESA until your permit has been issued. Without a permit, you are in violation of the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw and may be required to rehome the animal.
The LESA application is two applications in one:
- Initial/new application
- Reapplication due to change of address
LESA Permit information
What is a LESA permit?
- This permit allows citizens to keep livestock on their property if they meet the requirements of the permit application for a LESA.
- To be considered an emotional support animal, the livestock must be recommended by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist as part of a treatment program for mental health.
- The permit is issued for the address listed on the permit. If you move, you must apply for a new permit, which can be done by contacting 311 or filling out an online application. A site inspection will be required for a permit at the new address.
- The permit is issued for one year and must be renewed annually. If the LESA passes away during the one-year period, and you want to replace the livestock with the same species, the application process is simplified. If the LESA passes away:
- Contact 311 via phone or online to inform us your LESA has passed away. Change to Contact 311 and ask to speak with Animal Services to update your file.
- If you request a different species, the application process will start again, which will include a letter from a psychiatrist or psychologist. A new home inspection will also be required.
- The LESA permit holder must comply with all The City of Calgary Bylaws.
- Dogs, cats and other domestic animals do not require a permit as they are not considered livestock. They are allowed under the Responsible Pet Ownership bylaw. While dogs and cats do not require a LESA permit, they do require a license.
- The permit does not give LESA owners the same rights as owners of qualified service animals. Service animals are considered a human right under federal legislation. Unlike a service animal, The City cannot require businesses and service providers to:
- allow LESA on their premises, or;
- transport LESA in their vehicles.
The permit does not require landlords or condominium associations/boards to allow LESAs to be kept on the property. It is your responsibility to ensure the LESA is allowed.
- LESAs cannot be on public property or visit off-leash areas or parks.
- Federal and provincial legislation prohibits the keeping of certain exotic and wild animals, and The City must uphold these laws.
- If you violate the permit conditions, or the livestock is found to create a nuisance to neighbours, you will be responsible for the cost of rehoming the animal. If you are unable to continue to care for the livestock, or it is determined that the livestock is unsuitable for urban living, you may also be responsible for the costs to relocate the animal.
What do I need to apply for this permit?
You must have:
- A Pre-application Enquiry file number from The City of Calgary Planning and Development. To obtain this file number, call 403-268-5311 and ask for the Pre-application Enquiry to be created. You will need the following information:
- your address (where LESA will be located),
- the size of proposed structure you may built for your LESA (total area, heights, if the floor will be elevated from grade)
- approximate location of where the structure will be located.
Once you have the file number, you must keep it on hand as it is required throughout the application process.
If you change your address, you must apply for a new Pre-application Enquiry file number.
Further information on Planning and Development requirements for home improvements can be found here.
- A letter from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, in the last six months, on their professional letterhead, stating that the livestock is required as part of treating a condition that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) or subsequent version. The letter must state the type of livestock required. A letter from your family doctor or other physician will not be accepted. IMPORTANT: The letter must only state that the diagnosis is consistent with disorders listed in the DSM V (or subsequent versions), and must not contain any additional information about the diagnosis (FOIP legislation prohibits The City from keeping personal medical information about an individual on file). A letter containing information regarding a personal medical diagnosis will be returned to the applicant immediately with instructions for sending a new letter to complete the application.
- Contact information of a licensed veterinarian that can provide specialized care to the livestock your psychologist/psychologist is recommending. You are responsible for ensuring that all care requirements and recommended handling practices for the livestock meet the standards required by Alberta Farm Animal Care and the National Farm Animal Care Council.
- An alternative home for the LESA outside of The City of Calgary in case the permit is revoked for any reason.
I have all the requirements; how do I apply for the LESA permit?
Fill out the online application.
Make sure you have your Pre-application Enquiry file number from Planning and Development– this is the first piece of information you will be asked to provide.
You can attach your scanned or photographed letter to the online application or send it to Animal Services within 30 days from the creation of the SR. The letter can be submitted following the site inspection if there are any concerns about approval. If documents are not received in 30 days, the SR will be closed, and you'll have to open a new SR.
Keep your SR number after you submit your application to track your application status.
A fee of $69 applies for a Livestock Emotional Support Animal Permit.
How much does it cost?
A fee of $69 applies for a Livestock Emotional Support Animal Permit.
What happens after I’ve submitted my request for a permit?
- The City will review your application. If it meets permit criteria, we will contact you to schedule a site inspection. This inspection is to verify your yard has the necessary space to properly care for LESA.
- We will determine if the property where the LESA is to live suitably supports the animal’s care.
- If all criteria are met, a permit will be issued.
- Permits must be picked up at the Animal Services Centre (2201 Portland St SE Calgary).
- Please note: payment must be made at the time you pick up the permit.
- At the time you come to pick up your permit, you must bring the original letter from the licensed psychologist/psychiatrist and two pieces of government issued ID for verification.
Do I have to renew the LESA permit?
- You must renew your LESA permit annually, prior to the expiry date on the permit.
- If an individual doesn’t renew their permit, the animal will be considered as general livestock and not LESA. This means they are in violation of the bylaw.
- In such a case, the owner will receive a warning to remove the livestock within 30 days or re-apply for an LESA permit from the beginning – which means providing a new letter from a licensed psychologist/ psychiatrist.
My application was declined. Can I appeal?
- If your application is declined, you will receive a letter detailing the reasons as well as an appeal form to use if you wish to appeal the decision.
- If you want to appeal the decision you must write to the Director of Calgary Community Standards within 30 days from the date of the decision, explaining:
- the reason for your appeal, and
- why you disagree with The City’s denial of your application.
The appeal must be made in writing by mail—phone inquiries will not be accepted.
Mail appeals to:
Calgary Community Standards
PO Box 2100 Station M,
Mail Code No. 8116
Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2M5
I have a concern about my neighbor’s LESA. What should I do?
- Contact 311 online or by phone to submit a SR about your concern.
- A community peace officer will investigate and follow up with both you and the animal owner as appropriate.
Livestock emotional support animal information
What is the difference between a service animal and LESA?
LESA is a companion animal that a mental health professional has determined provides benefit for an individual with a disability. This may include improving at least one characteristic of the disability. The recent change to The City’s Responsible Pet Ownership bylaw allows The City to issue a permit for citizens to keep LESA if certain conditions are met.
A service animal is any animal trained to assist a person with a disability. That typically means a guide dog for the visually impaired, but can include many other roles, like alerting persons of an oncoming seizure. A service animal is not considered a pet.
Do LESAs need specialized training?
No training is required for LESAs. LESAs do not help their owners with activities of daily living, but rather provide companionship and emotional support.
Can a landlord or housing provider deny me housing if I have a permit for LESA?
We can issue a permit to allow an exemption for a LESA, but cannot tell a landlord, business owner or transportation provider to allow a LESA on its premises or in its vehicles. A LESA is not a service animal and doesn’t have the same protections under Canadian human right legislation. Non-certified service animals may be legally prohibited from entering a business for health and safety concerns (such as restaurants and grocery stores).
Why do I need a Pre-application Enquiry file number from Planning and Development?
To construct a shelter for your animal, there may be rules and regulations that need to be met. You must contact The City via Live Chat or (403) 268-5311. You can also visit www.calgary.ca/garage.
What other areas of the city can I take LESA?
The permit only allows for the animal to be kept on the owner's property. LESAs cannot be taken to an off-leash park or public place.
Can the landlord charge me a pet/security deposit for my LESA?
Just as with any pet or companion animal, a landlord can charge a security deposit for a LESA if s/he permits you to have one. Prior to acquiring a LESA, it is your responsibility to ensure it will be allowed by your landlord.
Can a person have more than one LESA?
It is not strictly prohibited by the permit process. The City will decide on a case by case basis.
Can I bring my LESA to university or on-campus housing?
The university or institution must give you permission. It is their decision.
My neighbor has livestock which they claim to be permitted, I don’t want them there. How can I get them removed?
If they are violating a Bylaw, a community peace officer will investigate. If no offence is occurring and they have a permit, the City will not investigate.
If I have a permitted animal and want to take a vacation, can I move the animal to another location in the City for that time?
The permit only allows the animal to be on the owner's property, so it cannot be housed elsewhere in the City. It is your responsibility to arrange for the care of your LESA on your property or outside the City of Calgary when you are away.
My animal is being harassed, who should I call?
If a complaint is filed by calling 311, a community peace officer will investigate.
I don’t think the animal is being properly cared for, who do I call?
Please contact Calgary Police Services or Calgary Humane Society immediately if you witness any form of cruelty or lack of care towards the animal.