SERVICE ANIMALS 

vs

THERAPY ANIMALS

vs

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS

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A key distinction of owning a service animal is that the owner/handler has a life-limiting disability. 

According to the World Health Organization, disability has three dimensions:

  1. Impairment in a person’s body structure or function, or mental functioning; examples of impairments include loss of a limb, loss of vision or memory loss.

  2. Activity limitation, such as difficulty seeing, hearing, walking, or problem solving.

  3. Participation restrictions in normal daily activities, such as working, engaging in social and recreational activities, and obtaining health care and preventive services.

  • Service animals are specifically trained for years to mitigate one person's disability. Only dogs and miniature horses are recognized by the ADA as service animals and are not considered pets. They must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability and its work must be directly related to the handler's disability. State & federal law do not require service animals to be registered or certified. 

  • There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog or miniature horse is a service animal.

  • Therapy animals are trained to provide comfort to multiple people, such as those in hospitals, schools, hospice facilities, etc. Therapy animals do NOT have public access rights. Even though they have undergone training through a therapy animal program, they are only allowed at pet friendly places. 

  • Emotional support animals require no training and typically only provide comfort to their owners. Emotional support animals do NOT have public access rights. They do not require training since they are only allowed to go to pet friendly places.

  • It is unethical & illegal to misrepresent a pet as a service animal, emotional support animal or therapy animal. If you would like to learn more about FAQs regarding Service Animals and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) feel free to click the PDF below!

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