FREE U.S. SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS

The Differences Between Service Animals, Therapy Animals and Emotional Support Animals

November 09, 2016 4 Comments

The Differences Between Service Animals, Therapy Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Service Animals

What is a service animal?

A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Disabilities may be physical, sensory, psychiatric, or intellectual.

What does "do work or perform tasks" mean?

The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example, a person who is blind or has limited vision may have a dog who is trained to guide him/her around obstacles to enable safe travel. A person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels.

Who benefits from service animals?
Individuals who are blind, deaf, restricted to a wheelchair, or suffer from seizure or psychiatric disorders can benefit immensely from the aid of a service animal.

If someone's dog calms them when having an anxiety attack, does this qualify it as a service animal?

It depends. According to the ADA, there is “a distinction between psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals. If the dog has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, that would qualify as a service animal.”

What laws govern service animals?

Service animals are governed and defined by Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Therapy Animals

What is a therapy animal?

A therapy animal is a pet trained to interact safely with many people to provide them with psychological or physiological therapy. Almost any animal can be a therapy animal including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and pigs.

Who benefits from therapy animals?

Anyone who suffers from psychological or physiological disorders may tremendously benefit from a therapy animal. Therapy animals are most commonly used provide affection and comfort to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities.

Are therapy animals required to undergo specialized training?
Yes, all therapy animals are required to undergo specialized training and may be certified.

Are therapy animals treated differently under the law from Emotional Support Animals?

Yes. Therapy animals do not have the same access rights as Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals. For instance, therapy animals cannot travel in the cabin of an airline for free and are not exempt from pet restricted housing. 

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

What are emotional support animals?

Emotional support animals are companions to individuals who are diagnosed with psychological or emotional disorders. These animals may include a variety of animals, including dogs and cats.

Who benefits from emotional support animals?

Anyone who suffers from psychological or emotional disorders may tremendously benefit from an emotional support animal. For instance, an emotional support animal’s unconditional love might be a soothing remedy for a person suffering from debilitating depression.

Are emotional support animals required to undergo specialized training?

No. Unlike service and therapy animals, emotional support animals are not required to undergo specialized training since their primary purpose is to provide their owners with emotional comfort.

How does one qualify their animal as an emotional support animal?

An owner must obtain an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional in order to qualify his or her animal as an emotional support animal.

What is an ESA letter?
An ESA (emotional support animal) letter is a letter from a licensed mental health professional which states an individual’s need for an emotional support animal.

What laws govern emotional support animals?
Although ESAs are not considered service animals, the federal government has enacted laws to prevent individuals with ESAs from being discriminated against. Some of these laws include:
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Air Carrier Access Act
  • Fair Housing Act
Are emotional support and therapy animals considered service animals under the ADA?

No. The ADA does not consider these animals services animals since they just provide comfort for people and, most importantly, have not been trained to perform and specific job or task. Keep in mind that some state and local governments allow people to bring emotional support animals into public places.

Additional Resources

Service Animals
Therapy Animals
Emotional Support Animals




4 Responses

Andrea Harris
Andrea Harris

February 10, 2021

Thank you for the information. People genuinely need to understand the difference between these animals. In my case i got my emotional support animal letter online a couple of months back from this website myesadoctor. There the doctor told me about the difference. I think before every recommendations this should be done. Anyways good work. Keep it up.

John smith
John smith

February 10, 2021

Thanks for the Information about ESA letter and also “THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SERVICE ANIMALS, THERAPY ANIMALS, AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS”

john smithinfo
john smithinfo

February 10, 2021

service dog versus therapy dog versus emotional support animal, a service dog has been trained to perform specific tasks that help mitigate, Other animals can provide therapeutic and emotional support for people with … schools, hospitals, and other public or private service providers.

infopdscenter
infopdscenter

February 10, 2021

its very informative.Thanks for sharing..

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in DJANGO Dog Blog

Kennel Cough in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention - djangobrand.com
Kennel Cough in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

June 09, 2021

Kennel cough is a common and highly contagious dog disease. It causes an ongoing, forceful cough in infected dogs and swelling in the lungs, windpipe, and voice box. If your dog has an unrelenting cough that sounds like a honking goose, he may have kennel cough.

While kennel cough sounds horrible, fortunately the majority of dogs recover without treatment. So what exactly is kennel cough in dogs? What dogs are most at risk for kennel cough, and what are its symptoms? Can humans contract kennel cough from their pets? Is there a vaccine for kennel cough?

In this DJANGO Dog Blog article, we explain the causes and symptoms of kennel cough in dogs. We also review available treatment options, discuss the Bordetella vaccine, and provide tips for prevention.

View full article →

DJANGO Dog Blog Interview: Philomena the Pug, Instagram's Sassiest and Most Persevering Pug - djangobrand.com
Interview: Philomena the Pug, Instagram's Sassiest and Most Persevering Pug

June 02, 2021

Philomena is a sassy pug and one of Instagram's most inspiring dogfluencers. Partially paralyzed on her left side, Philomena is unable to use her left paw and wears an orthopedic brace to maintain mobility. Despite having special needs, Philomena has an incredibly uplifting and joyful attitude and is always out and about with her owners.

We caught up with Philomena and her owner, Stefan Glazer, to hear about Philomena's massive wardrobe (think rainbow tutus, pink wigs, and power pearls), how she copes with a disabling injury, and get valuable tips on how to successfully grow a pet instagram account in 2021.

View full article →

DJANGO Dog Blog - How to Teach Your Dog to Love Riding in a Pet Travel Carrier and Pet Purse - djangobrand.com
How to Train Your Dog to Love Riding in a Pet Travel Carrier

May 12, 2021

In an increasingly pet friendly world, dog carrier bags allow us to take our four-legged family everywhere. Whether you are about to board an international flight, ride on public transportation, go hiking, or spend the afternoon running errands with your four-legged friend, getting your dog used to a pet carrier is essential.

Is your dog new to pet carriers? Nervous, excited, or jumpy in any type of dog bag or pet purse? It is very common for dogs to be scared of new carriers or even try to jump out, especially if they're not used to being carried. How do you teach your dog to love riding in a bag?

In this DJANGO Dog Blog article, we provide several steps to help your dog get used to a new pet carrier.

View full article →