In the eyes of the law, not all dogs are created equal. Here is an at-a-glance look at the differences between service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support dogs:
Service Dogs & Service Dogs-In-Training
Service dogs and service dogs-in-training are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act to have access to anything their masters might encounter, as long as the dogs are clean and well-behaved. That means service dogs have access to everything from the post office and grocery store to schools, apartments, hotels, libraries and restaurants, regardless of a pet policy.
Service dogs can aid in navigation for people who are hearing- and visually-impaired. They can alert an epileptic individual before a seizure occurs; they can warn a diabetic when their blood sugar is low. They can sense an increase in blood pressure, sniff deadly allergens, and calm an individual who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some are even trained to dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency.
Therapy dogs are generally very calm and well-behaved. They bring comfort and joy to the afflicted, but are not protected under the ADA. They are trained to go into nursing homes, hospitals, pediatric facilities and schools to provide therapy and education to patients and students. They have no right to enter a pet-restricted area, such as a grocery store, a restaurant or public transportation, unless they are invited.
Emotional Support Dogs
Emotional support dogs provide comfort, affection and companionship for individuals who are suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. They are not protected by the ADA. They are not required to perform any specific tasks for a disability. They are meant solely for emotional stability and unconditional love. They often help individuals with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, phobias and other psychological and emotional conditions. They are covered by the Fair Housing Amendment Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, regardless of pet policy.