NottaBear Newfoundlands is a kennel of service, therapy, and emotional support dogs. We train the dogs at home, and they also go to school to learn socialization and appropriate behaviors. Each dog has their own distinct personality and is good at the tasks they enjoy. Based upon that, we choose different jobs for different dogs.
Service dog, emotional support dog, or therapy dogs? What does it all mean? While each is a job, the terms are not interchangeable nor are the privileges or training.
The American Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. It also helps defines a service animal and how it differs from an emotional support animal.
A service dog is not a pet. It is a dog specially trained to perform tasks to help an individual with a disability. These disabilities may include physical, visual or sensory impairment. They can also include psychiatric, mental disability, and even conditions such as diabetes. The work or task a service dog performs is directly related to their handler’s disability.
Service dogs don’t have to be trained, certified, or registered by an organization or professional trainer. An individual can train their own service dog to do the things needed for their specific disability.
Once trained, service dogs may accompany their handler into places the public goes, including state and local government buildings, businesses open to the public, public transportation, and restaurants.
In circumstances where it is not apparent that the dog is a service animal, employees may ask only two specific questions:
- Is this dog required because of a disability?
- What tasks does the dog perform?
Employees are not allowed to ask what disability the handler has or ask to see the dog’s paperwork. Nor are they allowed to ask to see the dog perform its job.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG
Emotional support dogs offer comfort and companionship to their owner who is suffering mental or emotional conditions. They are meant for emotional stability and unconditional love. They can assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, fear/phobias, and other psychological and emotional conditions.
Emotional support dogs are not required to undergo special training or certification as their main job is provide their owner with unconditional love. Because they have not been trained to perform specific tasks, they do not qualify as service dogs under the ADA.
Since emotional support dogs don’t qualify as service dogs, they are not provided the legal ability to go everywhere their handler goes under the ADA. But, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does view an emotional support animal as a type of assistance animal and not a pet, and are recognized as a “reasonable accommodation” for a person with a disability under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHAct, 42 U.S.C.A. 3601 et seq.)
Therapy dogs are pets. They work with their handler (generally their owner) together as a team to improve the lives of other people they visit. These teams may visit schools, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and other facilities to provide comfort and act as a distraction to a person’s illness, fears, and loneliness.
Therapy dogs are trained to meet the standards set by the therapy dog organization or facility. They can attend special therapy dog classes to accomplish this goal, or they can be trained by their owner at home or with the assistance of a professional trainer.
Even with the excellent work therapy dogs provide and the training they go through, they are not considered service dogs under the ADA or an assistance animal under the Fair Housing Act.
At Nottabear, even though the dogs have jobs, each dog became a member of our family and a member of the community, serving those who were in need. Our dogs are dogs, they play, they dig, and they like sticks. Most importantly they bring love, joy, healing, education and hope to many, and do it all with a wagging tail.