What is the difference between Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs
Emotional support animals (ESAs) and service dogs are both types of assistance animals that provide support and comfort to individuals with disabilities. However, there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand.
Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities, such as guiding people who are visually impaired, alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or assisting individuals with mobility impairments. Service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are allowed to accompany their handlers in all public places, such as restaurants, hotels, and stores.
Service dogs can help a variety of people including:
- People who are blind or visually impaired and need assistance navigating their surroundings
- People who are deaf or hard of hearing and need assistance alerting to sounds
- People with mobility impairments who need assistance with tasks such as opening doors or retrieving objects
- People with seizure disorders who need assistance during and after a seizure
- People with diabetes who need assistance with tasks such as alerting to changes in blood sugar levels
In contrast, emotional support animals are not trained to perform specific tasks. Instead, they provide emotional support and comfort to individuals with mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). ESAs do not have the same legal protections as service dogs and are not allowed to accompany their handlers in all public places by law, such as restaurants or stores. However, they are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which allows individuals with ESAs to live with their animals in housing that has a “no pets” policy.
Emotional Support Animals can help a variety of people including:
People with anxiety or depression who would benefit from having a calming presence with them at all times
- People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who would benefit from having an animal to help them cope with anxiety or panic attacks
- People with autism who would benefit from having an animal to help them feel more secure in social situations
- People with other mental health conditions who would benefit from having an animal to provide emotional support and comfort
It is important to note the above lists are not mutually exclusive. Many individuals suffering from emotional or psychiatric conditions are also eligible for service dog registration provided their dog is properly trained to assist them with their specific disabilities.
It’s important to note that while there is a difference between emotional support animals and service dogs, they can both provide immense benefits to their handlers. If you’re considering getting an assistance animal, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional to determine which type of animal would be most beneficial for your needs. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to research the laws and regulations in your area to understand your rights and responsibilities as an assistance animal handler.
Regardless of which is right for you, many handlers choose to voluntarily register their service dogs and emotional support animals in order to receive a certificate and ID to demonstrate their status to third parties. Physical markers such as bandanas, collars and ID tags are also an easy and effective way to show the public that your dog is registered.
Register now to receive your uniquely identifiable Service Dog or ESA Identification and Certification.