What are the differences between a service dog, an emotional support animal and a therapy dog?

A service dog is individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate the disability of his owner. Training typically takes 18-24 months. Because of his advanced training, a service dog is considered medical equipment and is permitted to accompany his disabled owner to many places where pets are not permitted.

An emotional support animal belongs to a person who is disabled. The person’s doctor has determined that the presence of the animal is necessary for the disabled person’s mental health and written a prescription stating the pet is necessary in the person’s home, despite any “no pets” regulation of the landlord, for the person’s health. Little or no training is required. The owner of an emotional support animal has no more right than any other pet owner to take their emotional support animal with them other to keep one in a home where pets are not permitted or to fly with one in a cabin when pets are not permitted.

A therapy dog is a pet that has been trained, tested, registered, and insured to accompany his owner to visit patients and residents of facilities like hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up the people living there. A well-behaved pet can typically complete training in about 8 weeks. A therapy dog is legally a pet. It is not permitted to go anywhere that pets aren’t without permission from the facility owner. The objective of registration is to show facility managers that this dog is well behaved, safe around people, and insured against liability. It is not a license to walk into a hospital or nursing home without permission.

In short: service dog works to help the owner perform tasks he cannot perform on his own because of his disability, an emotional support animal works to improve the health of his owner who is disabled, and the therapy animal works with his owner to improve the health of others.

What breeds can a service dog be?

This is a very complex question. Traditional breeds for service dogs have been German Shepherds (GSD), Labradors, and Golden Retrievers. But nowadays the use of unusual breeds has exploded. Mastiffs are used for mobility work. Chihuahuas are used for diabetic or seizure alert dogs. If the dog has the temperment, skills, and willingness to work; almost any breed could do certain jobs. A corgi wouldn’t work out for pulling a wheelchair but but could work as a hearing dog. Breeds like pugs and bulldogs don’t always make the best of service dogs due to the pushed in noses–this leads to difficult breathing while walking and a shorter working life. While toy breeds can do some service dog jobs, they are not often taken seriously by store employees and the public, especially if dressed up like someone’s child.

Smaller breeds are being used by more disabled people on a fixed income as they eat less and can live happier in a smaller home. A cocker spaniel can alert to a sound just as well as a labrador.

Bully breeds, dobermans, and rottweilers are used as service dogs. This can caused access problems in areas with breed specific legisislation (BSL) aka breed bans. Some cities require service dogs of a banned breed to be muzzled in public. Or you may not be able to purchase a banned breed if you live within city limits.

Housing may also be an issue with a banned breed, or a breed considered “dangerous.” In some cases, a landlord can refuse to permit a dog of a certain breed on the premises.

“Through a Dog’s Eyes,” a primetime PBS documentary, follows the journey that recipients go through as they meet their new best friend — a Canine Assistants dog.

For hundreds of people with disabilities, service animals are a vital lifeline — helping individuals gain or reclaim independence, giving them more freedom, and demonstrating an exceptional bond of companionship.

A primetime PBS documentary,Through a Dog’s Eyes, shines the spotlight on these inspiring service animals, following the life-changing journey of recipients as they go through the heartwarming and sometimes difficult process of receiving and being matched with a service dog.

Jennifer Arnold, founder of one of the nation’s largest service dog organizations, Canine Assistants, shows her unique teaching methods, giving viewers an intimate look at the canine-recipient matching process.

The documentary, narrated by Neil Patrick Harris and funded by Milk-Bone, premiered earlier this year to such acclaim that PBS has scheduled a rare repeat airing. Mark your calendar for Wednesday, September 8 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT (check local listings) to learn more about these inspiring stories:

Bryson Casey, 30, served in Iraq as a captain with the National Guard. Upon his return home to Kansas City, Missouri, Bryson suffered a debilitating injury in a car accident, and is now a quadriplegic. Will Wagner, Bryson’s Canine Assistants dog, be up to the task of providing him with companionship, as well as helping to navigate the simple tasks of daily life?

Aiden, 6, lives in Denver, Colorado. Aiden was born with cerebral palsy and spends most of his time in a wheelchair. Aiden hopes that his dog Nala will help him at school with routine tasks such as picking up pencils, as well as offer silent support in social situations. Will Nala’s presence help break down barriers and allows other children to feel more comfortable around Aiden?

Destiny, 11, lives in La Vergne, Tennessee. Destiny and her dog, Salsa, immediately fell in love with each other during Canine Assistants’ training camp in November. Suffering from a rare form of epilepsy, Destiny has constant low-level seizures around the clock. Will Salsa have the ability to alert Destiny of impending seizures, providing comfort not just to Destiny, but to her family? Her parents are hoping to offer their daughter a measure of freedom she has never before experienced.

Twins, Chase & Connor, 7, live in Largo, Florida. The twins both have a form of cerebral palsy known as spastic diplegia, which affects the muscles of the lower body. Both boys hope their Canine Assistants dogs will help with everyday tasks and be companions. But will Chase realize his dream of one day walking with the support of his dog Oakley?

The documentary also follows the drama as recipients are matched with their canine companions and as they learn how to work with their new partners. “This film will change the way people think about their own dogs,” said Naomi S. Boak, Executive Producer. “Through a Dog’s Eyes shows the importance of the human-canine bond and how, when fostered, that bond can grow into a beautiful, life-changing relationship.”

source: Zootoo Pet News Staff

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