2001 East 1st St Ste 102 Santa Ana, CA 92705


We are here 7 days/week 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM PST

Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animal

Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animal

You might have come across differently-abled people on public transport such as on the train or bus with a service dog emotional support animal. Contrary to what you might think, they are not pets. They serve a greater purpose other than being a regular house pet. Often they are an extension of the differently-abled individual, whether that person is visually-impaired, living with a seizure disorder (epilepsy), suffering from past trauma (such as PTSD) or a person who has autism or a developmental delay condition. A service dog emotional support companion helps people with varying disabilities not just with their mobility, but even with their emotional needs as well. A service dog emotional support animal can give one the needed stability to maintain composure while moving around the city. They essentially improve the quality of life for humans who need extra care.

Differences between an Emotional Support Dog vs Service Dog

When talking about emotional support dog vs service dog, this also applies to emotional support animal vs service animal in general. Just to clarify, not all service animals are dogs, some are miniature horses, and some emotional support animals happen to be birds. Within the age-old debate between service dog vs emotional support animal, canines happen to be the more popular ones for the job. But clearly, the range of emotional support animal and service animal varies on the habitat, availability, and preference of the handler.

In discussing this context, the human needing assistance is often referred to as the ‘handler.’ When it comes to accessibility, a handler might opt for an immediate need to bond with an assistance animal, and an emotional support dog often gets the vote- in fact, any dog that can provide you comfort can qualify as your emotional support animal. However, not just any kind of dog can become a service dog.

So what exactly is the difference between a Service dog vs emotional support? They service different roles completely, so let’s go over the details on what separates a service dog vs a emotional support dog.

What is a Service Dog?

A service dog is trained to perform tasks or do work for a person suffering from a disability. They help provide visual functions for the blind, auditory functions for the deaf, and muscular functions for the physically disabled.

Also, they act as medical alert dogs for people who tend to suffer from a sudden attack.

They do provide emotional support to their owners, but the federal definition requires a dog to perform tasks for their owners which they are unable to do themselves to be considered as a service dog.

Most dogs are typically trained for four months before beginning service. Several people suffering from disabilities have recognized service animals as a great solution.

What is an Emotional Support Dog?

They are companion dogs that provide support to people suffering from emotional or mental ailments. Dogs have proven to be therapeutic for people with conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression.

Emotional support dogs need not to be trained. Their function is to provide emotional support and they need no training for that.

They are born with the ability of showering people with love and compassion. Any pet could be an emotional support dog if it helps manage it’s owners condition.

With all the care they provide ESA dogs have helped a number of people in managing their condition more effectively.

Public Policies Protecting Emotional Support Dogs and Service Dogs

Emotional Support Animal vs Service Animal

There are existing laws in place to protect your rights and the well-being of your service dog. This is to help you better understand and gauge situations where you may be held accountable just for the mere presence of your service animal. By staying informed of these public policies, you can assert your right to be there with your service dog. These laws though not as extensive and consistent as we may want them to be, but invariably offer protection across state lines.

  1. Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). Securing housing for you and your support animal can be difficult at times especially for apartments with a ‘no pet policy’ in play. Landlords have the legal duty to accept your companion animal under the FHA Act and ADA Act, and they cannot ask you about your disability, or be coerced into explaining the extent of your disability to them. Also, they cannot charge you extra rent or penalties for having an emotional support animal or a service animal. However, they can bill you for any outright damages your companion animal may cause to the property.
  2. Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), when it comes to an emotional support animal vs service animal, the ACAA champions both, as long as you are traveling within the jurisdiction of the United States. Do note that the legal guideline is entirely different if you are traveling to a foreign country. With your emotional support animal or service animal, they will be initially observed by the flight safety personnel, tags or any harnessed worn by the service dog will also be inspected. Also as a handler, you have to vouch for the support skills and behavioral training of your service dog.
  3. Compliance Strategy. This is often a compromise between the employer and employee needing the companion assistance animal. A company can assess whether they can make reasonable accommodations for your emotional support animal or service animal in the workplace. However, they can deny your request on the grounds that it imposes an undue hardship on the company. As an employee with an assistance dog, you will have to work on setting the ground rules with the company first and having a written agreement in place.

A service dog emotional support animal can truly change one’s life in a number of amazing ways. With the sheer number of hours spent together, a strong bond often develops between the individual and the caring companion animal, and without a doubt, a service dog’s loyalty, sense of urgency and temperament is truly a gift to those who need their daily help.