The Difference Between Service, Therapy, & Emotional Support Animals

There are differences – and a lot of confusion about – these categories.  We explain it here.

Service Animal

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Specifically and specially trained to help one particular individual with a disability. Protected by law. Allowed to be brought into public establishments and even housing that would not ordinarily allow animals. Don't pet. That can interfere with their job and put their human at risk.

Therapy Animal

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Owned as a pet by an individual who trains and certifies them to help groups of people by providing companionship. Visit hospitals, retirement homes, etc. and are also brought in after a disaster for people to pet and hold. Unlike service dogs, are not protected by law, and may not enter public establishments without specific permission, which may be withheld.

Emotional Support Animal

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Owned as a pet by an individual. Does not need to be trained and helps only their owner cope with psychological needs. Not protected by law. May not enter public establishments unless given specific permission, which may be withheld.