© 2018 by Assistance Animals Consulting

  • Rhesa Houston, DVM

Definition of an Assistance Animal

Updated: May 3, 2018


What is an Assistance Animal? Assistance Animals Consulting is your resource to provide education and understanding of the different types of working animals and how they are defined and differentiated.


What is an Assistance Animal? 


As defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an assistance animal is not a pet. It is 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. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support. For purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the Fair Housing Act nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified. While dogs are the most common type of assistance animal, other animals can also be assistance animals.


A Service Dog can be classified as an Assistance Animal. However, specific task related training conditions must be met for an Assistance Animal to be classified as a Service Dog for a disabled person.


Assistance Animals and The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act is the law which protects persons with disabilities from housing discrimination. HUD states the Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to people with disabilities, or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices for people with disabilities. Allowing people with disabilities to have assistance animals that perform work or tasks, or that provide disability-related emotional support, is considered a reasonable accommodation under the Act.


Assistance Animals consulting are veterinarians advocating for and serving clients with disabilities. To learn more about assistance animals, and all working animals, contact Assistance Animals Consulting today.

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