A service dog provides help to a person who has a physical disability such as blindness or hearing loss. If they meet this definition the animal is a service dog under the ADA even if the animal is not licensed in the state or local government. They have been trained to provide support and to help their owners with everyday tasks.
Emotional Support Animals
Emotional support animals are simply domesticated animals that are there for emotional support. These animals have not had training of any kind and can either be your current pet or a new pet. While many of the same laws protect service dog owners and ESA owners, there are different requirements for both.
An ESA helps decrease emotional or psychological symptoms for owner’s with mental health conditions. All domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, reptiles, rodents, or mini-pigs can serve as an ESA.
An ESA can go with their owners while traveling on a plane or other form of public transportation. They are also allowed to live in a housing community that may have a “no-pets” policy. The owners will need to present a letter to airlines or landlords from a licensed mental health professional. This letter states that they are emotionally disabled and that he or she prescribes for them to have an emotional support animal.
Emotional support dogs or cats are here to provide companionship to their owners and help during stressful situations. Their presence assists in keeping the person calm and lessens the symptoms of their mental disorder.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice,
…an emotional support animal is not going to be a service animal under the ADA unless it does meet the task training requirement.
Still Have Questions?
If you still have questions about the difference between ESAs and Service Animals, be sure to check your own specific health needs. Consult with your doctor or therapist to find out if you could benefit from the help of a service dog or an emotional support animal.