Service Dog, Emotional Support Animal or Therapy dog…

by Sue on June 21, 2012

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People tend to get these three confused at times so I will sum it up in a nut shell.

Service Dog: A dog that is trained (either by the owner or someone else. Or in some cases the dog just does it naturally) to help that disabled individual with day to day tasks, helps alert an individual when its time for medication or if they are about to have a seizure, or helps calm a person with PTSD, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, Aspergers, Autism, etc.

Emotional Support Animal: Any animal that gives a person the will to live. In other words, gives them something to live for. This is very key for those suffering from depression, etc.

Therapy Dog: Any dog that has been tested for temperament (usually with a Canine Good Citizen test, commonly known as a CGC test). Then used for many purposes such as visiting people in a hospital, visiting nursing homes, calming a frightened or traumatized child, calming a child while being interviewed as a witness, and many many other way that just in general make people feel good.

Places each dog can go:

Service Dog: Open access except in private homes. If a home owner states that they do not want the dog in their home, they do have the right to say no. Basically, any place which is open to the public is to allow a service dog( with the exception of churches and Indian reservations as they are considered sovereign nations).

Emotional Support Animal: On Airlines and in housing (that the owner is renting or leasing) with a policy against pets or restrictions on pets. No place else. Public places that are posted “Service Dogs Only” or “Service Animals Only” are not open to Emotional Support Animals or Therapy Dogs.

Therapy Dogs: Allowed into areas with allow Therapy Dogs. Not allowed into places only Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals are allowed unless given special permission (In other words. The dog needs to do the job that he is trained for in that particular area).

Sussie and the Friendly Foursome
Gunny, Rainy, Lucy, Squeaky

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dawn Dershem 06.25.12 at 5:56 pm

I love your messages! Please keep sending them! Do not get tired of doing good!

2 belinda 06.25.12 at 7:11 pm

Thank you for the explanation. I need to memorize it. I am so tired of being treated like I am lieing when I say my dog is a service dog. I have PSTD, it was really severe at one point and I did not leave my home for 6 months. I could not bear the thought of being around people. I would panic at the thought of being outside my home. Since I have had my service dog I have become more independent and free. Some places do need to school their employees on how to approach people with service dogs and how to talk to them.

3 Harriet 06.26.12 at 12:11 pm

Thanks for making the distinctions clear. That is very helpful.
You mentioned (awhile ago) that you were perhaps running out of topics. I was wondering if you could include more information on training. I am training my own dog and would find your comments (and other people’s) helpful. And maybe even encouraging.
I enjoy your columns. Keep up the good work.

4 Martha 06.26.12 at 7:14 pm

Thanks for explaining the difference. I only had 1 problem with an ice cream shop they wanted to see his papers, I explained he is in training as his vest said. We were not welcome and by that time we were done eating any way. The college kids loved him because they missed their dog. I enjoy your articles.

5 Karen 06.29.12 at 10:25 pm

I had a shopowner tell me that i could not bring my servicedog into his store in a mall. He said he would call mall security if i did not leave. When mall security arrived, they informed the shop owner that he had no right to act the way he did. I then informed the owner that if he had treated me with respect I would have left as he explained to the security officer that he was allergic to dogs. I always respect people when they simply let me know they are allergic.

6 Sussie Due 07.05.12 at 5:46 pm

Hi. That is a good suggestion unfortunately I would be no help in that. I am not a service dog trainer. My dog does what he does naturally.

7 juliana 07.06.12 at 7:31 pm

The ADA does not recognize emotiomal support animals as service animal and are not allowed access to airplanes etcetera as are servixe animals.

8 wendy chambers 07.27.12 at 1:17 am

took my service dog to Daytona Beach FL, they are the most unkind to people with service dog only one motel let me stay and I had to tell him that it would be cash payment.
would love to turn them all in.
thanks for letting me vent.
wendy and salina

9 Perri Peltz 08.06.12 at 1:29 pm

Hi, My name is Perri Peltz – I am directing and producing a documentary about Puppies Behind Bars- an organizations that has prison inmates raise and train puppies to become service dogs for veterans with PTSD. We launched a Kickstarter campaign today to try and raise funds for the doc. We are wondering (and hoping) if you might mention this to your community. There is a trailer on the KS site. Thank you for any help you are able to provide – we are most appreciative. Best, Perri Peltz

10 Patch Guglielmino 09.10.12 at 7:15 am

The law has recently updated and people with PTSD or anxiety disorders can have service dogs. They aren’t considered emotional support They are service dogs

11 Corbun Babel 02.11.13 at 1:14 pm

Thank you for the distinction between the different types of helper dogs. The articles in your blog are very informative and I have learned a great deal from them.

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