© 2018 by Assistance Animals Consulting

Patient Education

As veterinarians, our unique expertise qualifies us to provide resources for education and guidance regarding assistance animals, service dogs, emotional support animals, and therapy animals.  Our veterinary consultants help you understand the different types of assistance animals, their legal context for use and rights of access.

The legal context for Animal Assistance Use

Assistance Animal

As defined by Department of Housing and Urban Development:

“An animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.”

Service Animal

As defined by Americans with Disabilities Act:

“Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability." Miniature horses have been added as a specific provision to the ADA.

Emotional Support Animal

As defined by Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act:

An emotional support animal may be an animal of any species, the use of which is supported by a qualified physician, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional on the basis of a disability-related need. Emotional support animals may be permitted as reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities under the Fair Housing Act. The Air Carrier Access Act provides specific allowances for emotional support animals traveling on airlines, though documentation may need to be provided. 

Therapy Animal

As defined by AVMA policy "Animal-Assisted Interventions: Definitions":

A therapy animal participates in animal-assisted therapy or an "intervention in which an animal meeting specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. ...Animal-assisted therapy is provided in a variety of settings, and may be group or individual in nature."

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* Information from Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association

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