Keep in mind that service animals are classified based on task they can do but have you ever wonder about the difference between service animal, dog guide and therapy animal, companion/emotional support animals and pets? This question oftentimes brings confusions to people who need help.
All about ESA Registration
To make it all clear, the term Service Animal is the federal legal term for animals that are individually trained to do task for individual with disability. It may not always be a dog, does not always wear equipments identifying them as service animals, is not a pet, is protected by law, guide the blind, alert people who are deaf, carry or pick up items, close and open doors, assist disabled who have limited use of arms and legs, pull wheelchairs, assist individual with seizures and assist people who have problems in balancing.Get additional information at ESA Letter.
A guide dog / animal is trained to provide guidance for sight impaired individual. Guide dogs had their trainings from certified licensed school for guide dogs. The most important thing is that guide dogs are protected under state and federal law.
Some people referred to their animals as therapy animal however it is not legally defined under federal law. Most therapy animals can be seen in nursing homes, orphanages, hospitals, etc. while others reside in doctor/dentist offices, rehabilitations establishments, and even in private homes of people or individual that benefits a lot for keeping animals because of the therapeutic companionship it has to offer. For some states, it is defined as personal pet for therapist, physicians so in short, a therapy animal is not a service animal. The hint is that when an animal is trained to provide continuous assistance (help, aid, support) to a qualified disabled individual because of his / her disability, then that means that the animal is considered as service animal rather than a therapy animal.
In rare cases, people term their animals as companion or emotional support animals. It’s often given the role of specifically assisting people with either emotional or mental disabilities and need constant companionship because they are unable to function independently. This type of animals are almost same as pets because it’s not legally defined but accepted as another form of pet and protected under Fair Housing Act.
The most common confusion is how the pet is different from any other service animals. The answer is just simple. A pet is not a service animal because it’s not trained to provide specific service or task to person with disability and it’s not protected under laws that give equal access to disable individuals.
With all the types of service animals, people sometimes failed to identify if an animal is service animal or not. To tell you honestly, it’s easier to tell which is not. How? You can tell by looking. It’s important that you don’t make the person with disability feel uncomfortable when you ask. However, if you are still confused if the animal meets the criteria to be called as service animal, you can ask question in a discreet way. You can ask if animal is required due to disability or maybe ask for task and services the animal was trained for. Remember that it’s a big NO to ask the person about their disability. Never ever ask a guest for proof. In short, you cannot discriminate people with service animals because of their disability. You should not ask people with disabilities and their service animals to stay away or required to sit in certain locations, but instead, the individual with the animal may choose freely to sit in a location where the animal will be less distracted. Besides, with all the proper trainings given to both the owner and the animal, you may expect the service animal to behave the right way and be under control of their owner.