What are the differences between a service dog and a support dog?

Hampden County
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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Service dogs can help people with a variety of disabilities – but what makes a service dog different from a support animal?

We all need love from our four-legged friends but some people need more attention than others. Those with medical or psychological disabilities have needs that support animals and service dogs help with on a daily basis. However, there are certain rules owners must follow in order for their animal to become a service dog like Cali.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), pets are not considered service animals. Only dogs can qualify as service animals and service dogs must be specially trained to perform specific services for certain disabilities.

Cali’s trainer Sherrie King told 22News that Cali is in her 10th week of training and helps her owner deal with occasional seizures and fainting. There is no federal criteria to meet in order for someone to have a service dog.

King said, “A lot of people will buy their quote on quote accreditation online…it doesn’t make it a legal service dog.”

Under the ADA, any establishment that serves the public must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where the public is allowed to go. King recommends service dogs wear a vest to identify themselves.

Unlike service dogs, emotional support animals are not required to be trained to perform specific tasks and are not limited to just dogs. In order to receive an emotional support designation the animal’s owner must have a medical reason.

King said, “A service dog is trained to assist one person….their handler. An emotional support dog is going to support everyone in the household.”

Find out more information about where service dogs or emotional support animals are allowed here:  https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet

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