We are glad to offer both Therapy Dog Training Certification, as well as Service Dog Training. While both of these titles offer incredible opportunity for both the dog and handler, it’s important to know the difference between the three different classifications of assistance animals. In the spirit of education we offer the following information on the difference between the classifications of working animals.
Therapy / ESA / Service
Therapy Dogs have been through specialized training, have received a certificate based on performance, and are able to visit hospitals, schools, retirement homes, etc. to provide relief and comfort to other people. Affectionate contact with a dog will release Oxytocin into the bloodstream, and among many other things, it will temporarily boost the body’s ability to recover from illness/conditions. Therapy animals are afforded no rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are not protected under law to enter any building or transit situation.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are dogs who provide comfort by their presence to their owner and require no special training. The only thing required to claim an animal as an ESA is a letter from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist claiming the animal is necessary to as an ESA to reduce unusual stress or anxiety around travel. Under the ADA, ESA’s are allowed to stay with their owner regardless of the living situation (ie. “no pets” policies) and permitted to board public transit systems (airplanes, trains, busses, etc…). The ADA does not grant permissions for ESA’s to enter public buildings.
Service Dogs are animals who perform a task/tasks for their handler that improve quality of life. Tasks can include (but are not limited to) guide services, medical alert, deep pressure therapy, blocking, anchoring, and picking things up. The training that goes into a service dog is considerable, however, there is no service animal registry. The ADA permits Service Dogs to go anywhere the handler goes so long as the animal’s presence does not pose a nuisance or safety hazard. No specific paperwork is required for access and establishments may not bar access based on a lack of vest/proof. The way the Health Information Portability and Protection Act (HIPPA) interacts with the ADA limits the questions businesses may ask of service animal owners to these two: Is this a service animal? What service does the animal provide?
We currently offer light-medium mobility service dog work (deep pressure therapy, block, picking up things, etc.) but, at this time we do not offer any service dog training for tasks which would be considered “life dependent.”