Service vs Emotional Support Animals

By  Jesseca Raney

A service animal, mainly dogs, are trained animals that are trained to do very specific tasks that cater to a human with a physical or mental illness. An emotional support animal is not trained to do any special tasks, but are there to make their handler feel happy.

(Photo: Francois Guillot/Getty Images)

The main difference between the two is that a service animal is trained to only react to their handler and trained to be out in public without causing problems. For example, a well trained service dog can be out in the mall with their handler without being on a leash and will not run off and/or go after another animal that they may so happen to pass. The service animal should be trained to be around other animals and out in public without running off or trying to fight other animals. Service animals are meant to be kept on the ground and not carried so that they are able to preform their jobs. In all, service animals are not meant to be pets unlike emotional support animals which are only pets. 

Image result for service animals

An emotional support animal is a pet that has received no training beside preforming basic tricks and not to go to the bathroom inside the home. When people have their emotional support animal out in public, without a leash they are more than likely to run off and try and play/fight with other animals that may be out in public as well. Also when people are in public with an emotional support animal, they are carried and the handler allows strangers to pet and talk with the animal. A service animal could occasionally do this, as long has they trust that a small gesture towards the animal as long as it does not distract the animal from their job.

Service Animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which emotional support animals are not. This act protects the handlers from being kicked out of places where animals are not. For example pets are not allowed in Walmart, but when first walking into the store, you can see a sign that says that only service animals are allowed into the store.

Untrained pets pose a threat to service animals and their handlers. An example of this would be if the handler of the pet was a large dog and the owner a smaller person. The dog could easily escape from the handler and possibly attack a passing service animal or just want to play, which doesn’t sound too bad, but it posses a threat to the service dog’s handler. They may have PTSD ,which could cause seizures, and could possibly go into an episode, but their service dog is not focused on their owner anymore and could possibly cause great harm to the handler. This way it is important to know the differences between an emotional support animal and a service animal. Knowing the difference could mean life or death for some people in the most severe cases. 

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