Assistance Animal Definitions and Examples
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Service Animals are animals that have been trained to perform a service or task for a person with a disability. These tasks can be related to mobility or other physical, psychological, or biological issues. Examples include a mobility/guide dog for someone with visual impairments, a seizure-alert dog, a de-stressing dog for someone with anxiety, or an animal trained to remind its owner to take medication. The trained tasks/services must be directly related to a person’s disability.
An Emotional Support Animal is any pet that provides comfort and emotional assistance to someone in physical, psychological, biological, or emotional distress. Physicians and mental health professionals have found that emotional support animals have an anti-anxiety, calming, and positive effect on their owners. Anyone who feels their animal is a source of emotional support should seek proper documentation from their health care professional.
Therapy Animals are well-behaved, trained animals with good temperaments that work alongside their owners with at-risk populations that might benefit from a visit with a furry friend. Therapy animal teams (the animal and the owner/handler) visit hospitals, schools, mental health centers, nursing homes, and other facilities, usually to evoke smiles and good cheer.