Dogs are a man’s best friend, they can do many things that help and benefit their owners and the world. They can help us both emotionally and physically. Fox 13 brought in Heather Gibson, from Big Hearted Breeders, and her puppy, Sweet Potato, to talk about the differences between Emotional Support Dogs, Therapy Dogs and Service Dogs which tends to get a little convoluted and confusing.
First, Emotional Support Animals (ESA).
They are the most common as people are looking for the benefits of lowered stress, there are so many great research studies now that show the benefit of it, so they are looking for a pet.
Sometimes, people think that their Emotional Support Animal gives them the benefits of being able to go anywhere without permission, this is called public access. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, your Emotional Support Animal needs permission from owners or management in order to enter stores or restaurants, for example.
The only benefits that Emotional Support Animals have is for housing, so you can bring in a dog or a cat to housing that normally does not allow them and without a pet fee. There are a few exceptions to this, so if you live in the United States make sure you check with your state laws to find out.
To qualify for the housing benefit of an Emotional Support Animal, you do not need to register anywhere online. So be warned, anyone who tries to sell you an ESA Registration to you online is a scam. You need a doctor's note from either your medical doctor, a therapist, a psychiatrist or other mental health professional, and that is how you gain the benefits for your Emotional Support Animal.
Next, Therapy Animals.
This is when a volunteer trains their dog and then goes into places like the hospital, nursing centers, places like that and helps people in other ways. There are very few benefits for therapy dogs.
Therapy animals also don’t have public access, they need permission to go into places. They also usually get very specific training for their work. There are a several organizations that provide this training including Pet Partner
, Intermountain Therapy Dogs
and Utah Therapy Dogs
Many places where Therapy Animals volunteer require the owner and dog to complete a formal training in order to get the ability to volunteer. It’s a lot on the owner so if you are interested in volunteering your dog as a Therapy Dog you will want to make sure your dog has the right temperament for this before getting started.
Last, Service Animals.
A lot of people confuse emotional support animals with service animals. Service Animals have public access, so there are very few places they are not allowed to go with their owner. They are permitted, for example on air travel, while other pets may not be or may require a fee.
A service dog is considered to be medical equipment for their owner. The owner has to have an ADA disability and the service dog has to do something to fulfill and help with that issue. These animals are individually trained to complete a specific work or task that provides an animals assist to an individual with a disability.
Some of the things a service dog can do is go get medicine, alert before a seizure, open and close doors, or provide pressure therapy for someone with PTSD and the list goes on. They perform an important work for people with disabilities.
While all of these dogs serve an important purpose in our society, and perhaps in your personal life, it is important to remember that a dog has feelings too. With that in mind, it is important to keep their personality in mind when deciding if that specific dog or animal would make a good ESA, Therapy Animal or Service Animal.
Therapy dogs are the hardest temperament to find. It’s not just about the training, a therapy dog has to be really good in all situations and with all kinds of people. If you try to put a dog in this situation that does not have the proper temperament, they may not perform well, or they burn out quickly.
On the other hand, emotional support and service dogs are usually trained to one person, which gives them a little more leeway on their temperament. However, their personalities should still be taken into account when deciding the type of work they would be best suited for in order to ensure they are able to fulfill the duties that will be required of them and not burn out.
**If you are interested in learning more about emotional support dogs or service dogs, please reach out to me using the form below!**