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The Difference Between Service, Therapy & Emotional Support Animals

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Service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support animals all fulfill important roles in aiding their humans, but the terms are not interchangeable. Each role is specifically defined, both in terms of the jobs and the legal rights offered. 

We outlined the differences between each in our article on animalplanet.com, but in light of latest DOT regulations around service animals and emotional support animals, we thought we’d give you a simple breakdown here. 

What are the differences between service, therapy & emotional support animals?

– A service animal is a dog or horse specifically trained to do certain major life tasks for a person with physical or severe psychiatric disabilities. 

– A therapy animal can be any animal trained to provide affection and comfort to people in facilities such as schools, hospices, disaster areas, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. 

– An emotional support animal is a pet that is part of the owner’s psychological treatment plan and prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. 

According to the Department of Transportation (December 2020), emotional support animals will no longer have the same rights as service animals when it comes to flying on commercial airlines. Policies will be set by individual airlines but they each will be required to conform to the DOT rules. 

Make sure to read the full article on animalplanet.com to help yourself and your followers recognize the difference between service, therapy and emotional support animals and how they each play a vital role in society.

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