Service Animals vs. Emotional Service Animals: What’s The Difference?

Service Animals Perform a ‘Task’

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects the right of handicapped people to have service animals with them, who are trained to perform a task. These dedicated animals can guide people who are blind, alert people who are deaf, sense and protect when a seizure is in the offing and perform many tasks that are invaluable for their owners.

“Emotional service animals” are a relatively new category of animals who provide comfort for people with emotional disabilities. But because they are not trained to perform specific tasks, they are not granted the same broad protections and access as other service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ADA Service animals have access rights with their handlers in any and all areas where public access is allowed, but emotional support animals do not. For example, they can be denied entry into places that sell or serve food. But under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord or Homeowners Association must provide reasonable accommodations for an emotional service animal too – even if pets are normally disallowed.

Both of these animals are not just pets; they serve their handlers with support they need. But service animals and emotional service animals are not treated the same way in the eyes of the law. Make sure you know what’s required if you have a service animal. Real Life Legal TM wants you to be prepared. You can learn more with Real Life Legal’s TM newest release: “Planning for Pets: Trusts, Leash Laws and More” by Joanne Dekker, Esq.

Parker Press Inc. has provided this information concerning the subject matter covered, for educational purposes. Parker Press Inc. does not render legal or other professional advice, and information here is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney, nor does it constitute the rendering of legal or professional advice or services to a particular individual. If legal or other expert assistance is needed, the services of a qualified professional should be sought to address the specific needs in your situation. 

Susan G. Parker, Esq.

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