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How does a therapy animal differ from a service or emotional support animal?

Pets & People Foundation only certifies therapy animals, not service or emotional support animals.  Below describes the difference between these categories.

What is a Therapy Animal?

Therapy animals are pets that are trained to bring joy and smiles to many people. Their training is not geared to support one specific person (like a service or emotional support animal), rather their role is to help many others. Therapy animals are not allotted any special provisions like traveling on planes, going into restaurants or stores.  Therapy animals can only enter facilities approved by their certifying organization.

What is a Service Animal?

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities”.  Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, alerting a person who is having a seizure or calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Service animals are working animals, not pets. Under the ADA, service animals are allowed to enter facilities that serve the public. Because a service animal’s job is to support one specific person, Pets & People does not certify a service animal as a therapy animal.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional. ESAs are often called comfort animals as they provide therapy support to someone with a mental illness. Because these pets are needed by one person, Pets & People does not certify ESAs as therapy animals.

"The best therapist has fur and four legs"

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