Service Dog vs. Therapy Dog vs. Emotional Support Dog

Many people who see our Therapy Dogs dressed in their blue vests think that they are service dogs.  We get a lot of questions from people in the community about the difference between a Service Dog and a Therapy Dog.

A Service Dog is specially trained for a specific person’s needs.  There are guide dogs for the blind, seizure alert dogs for epileptics, allergen sniffing dogs for people who are deathly allergic to certain things, like peanuts.  Service dogs can go anywhere that their handler goes – into stores, on public transportation, etc., as long as the dog is clean and well-behaved.   The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service dogs and their access to public spaces.

Therapy Dogs are invited into a facility or event to provide therapy to people other than their handler.   They go into nursing homes, hospitals, pediatric facilities and schools to provide therapy and education to the patients and students.

Emotional Support Dogs are not trained to perform specific tasks related to their owner’s diability.  They are not Service Animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),

It is important to note that a Therapy Dog has no rights to enter an animal restricted area (grocery store, public transportation, etc), and are only allowed where they are invited to visit.  Therapy Dogs are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Furry Friends Therapy Dogs visit health care facilities and schools.  They do not wear their vests for the personal needs of their owner.