What is a Therapy Dog?
Therapy Dogs are animals that are utilized for the comfort and joy they bring to those who have been affected by a disaster that has brought illness or poor conditions. Many owners of Therapy Dogs find that their natural ability to provide a calm setting can dramatically reduce stress and increase comfort. Often a Therapy Dog can be found in public areas like nursing homes, disaster areas, schools, retirement homes, and hospitals.
What are the legalities of owning a Therapy Dog?
While Therapy animals provide a very important service to both handlers and the individuals they come in contact with, they are not protected under the Fair Housing Act, the ADA or the ACAA, etc). Both handler and Therapy Dogs while they are not protected under the law, they are still identified into three types:
- Therapeutic Visitation: This type of Therapy dog is most common as they are originally household pets. Owners of Therapeutic Visitation Dogs generally take time in visiting rehab facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals. Because the inhabitants of these facilities stay for long periods of time, Therapy Dogs act as a “spirit lifter” to individuals who may have a pet at home.
- Animal Assisted Therapy: This type of Therapy dog assists with physical and occupational therapy sessions. Achieving mobility, increasing rehabilitation effectiveness, and can be a very important part of a person’s recovery.
- Facility Therapy: These types of Therapy Dogs are primarily working in nursing homes. These dogs help keep patients with Alzheimer’s and other mental illnesses from running into situations that can be dangerous.
What does a Therapy Dog look like?
Therapy Dogs have a very important job serving the community in different ways. While these dogs work primarily with communities that are in extended stay facilities, they must be well-tempered animals. In addition, Therapy dogs must not shed excessively as many of these communities need to maintain their cleanliness. Therapy dogs also must be exposed to a variety of people and be well socialized to many environments. The last and most important characteristic of a Therapy dog must be that they love to cheer people up!