Many people confuse service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support animals. While all of these dogs help their owners and other people in some way, their training, responsibilities and access to public areas are very different.
A therapy dog is typically a pet who provides comfort and affection to people in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, schools, libraries and even disaster areas. These dogs love people, are extremely tolerant of people and situations, and are comfortable in any setting. Many therapy dog owners belong to a therapy dog registration and/or certification organization, such as the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Pet Partners and HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response. These organizations provide a wide range of services to therapy teams, including educational information, screening of volunteers and dogs, certification, registration, continuing education and even insurance.
An emotional support dog provides only emotional support to a person with a mental health condition or emotional disorder. These dogs provide comfort to their owners but don’t perform any tasks to alleviate a disability.
No wonder they’re considered our best friends
Whether a service dog, working dog, therapy dog or family pet, dogs add so much to our lives. They can make life easier and more comfortable for those among us who need them.