Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What is the Difference Between a Service Dog, Assistance Dog, Therapy Dog and Emotional Support Dog?

What is a Service Dog? 
A service dog is a broader category of dogs that includes any dogs that are specially trained to work in public with their handlers. A police dog, search and rescue dog and assistance dog are all considered 'service dogs'

What is an Assistance Dog?
An assistance dog is a type of service dog is a dog that is considered a medical device for a person with a disability. The dog is specially trained for public access and 
specifically trained to do tasks that mitigate the disability of their one handler. Service dogs are legally allowed to have public access with the person with the disability to any places where the general public is allowed. 

In some areas (such as BC and Alberta , Canada), the dog will have a tag affixed to his collar issued by the government body that states the dog is certified for public access. Business owners are allowed to ask 1. if the dog is a service dog and if, so, 2. to see the collar tag. 

In the US, members of the public are allowed to ask two questions to verify if the dog is a service dog. 1. Do you have disabilities? 2. If so, what tasks is the dog trained to do?

What is a Therapy Dog?
A therapy dog is a dog that goes into care homes, hospitals, schools and other places where there are groups of people. They are trained to allow unfamiliar people to physically interact with them in order to give them comfort. Some dogs assist people that have been traumatized by events such as mass shootings, bombings etc.  A dog may be specially trained by an organization to do so, or it may be an individual’s dog who takes the dog into a facility. These dogs are not given any special public access rights except for the individual facilities that give their approval. 

What is an Emotional Support Dog? 
A dog that by it’s presence, calms and comforts the person. Such a dog usually works with only one person. No specific task training is done. Public access is not given to these animals except by special approval in specific facilities. In some areas, the dogs are allowed by housing laws. A letter from a Doctor, Psychiatrist, Social worker or other mental health care professional is usually requested as proof that the dog qualifies as an emotional support dog. Some airlines will allow emotional support animals to accompany their person. In BC, they are not recognized at any level. In the US, they are allowed by the tenancy act of some states. Check the local laws. O