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Service Dogs, ESAs, & Therapy Dogs

Although they may seem similar, the duties of service dogs, emotional support dogs, and therapy dogs are very different from each other.

Service Dogs

A dog that's trained to perform a task that is specific to their person's disability. This dog can be any breed of any size and does not need to be certified or undergo a professional training program to be considered a service dog. Although they may be loved these dogs are not pets. Service dogs are protected by the American Disabilities Act and are allowed in any establishment, housing, and on any airline as long as they're housebroken and can be kept under control by their handler.

Emotional Support Dogs

A dog that provides therapeutic benefit to its owner. This dog can be any breed of any age and size. They do not require professional training but to be allowed into pet-restricted housing, the owner must have a certified letter from their mental health professional prescribing the use of said pet to assist in the emotional stability of their patient. Emotional Support dogs are pets and are not covered by the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and can be turned away from entering establishments and public transportation.

Therapy Dogs

This is a dog that provides comfort and improves the lives of humans in the community. This dog can be of any breed and size but must be at least 1 year old. Although it is not required for therapy dogs to have professional training and certification, many establishments will request that the dog have some sort of good citizen certification, have a good temperament, and enjoy the company of humans to be permitted access. Therapy dogs are not protected by the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

It's important to know the differences between the three titles.

Photo credit: Dog Photographer of Tampa Bay

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