At some point you’ve heard the term “service dog”, or seen someone in public with a dog and wondered how they are able to bring the animal into a particular location. In this article I’m going to outline the basics of each type of service dog, as each category is unique.
• THERAPY DOGS Therapy dogs are dogs that can go with their owners to volunteer in various settings (schools, hospitals, nursing homes, etc). They provide people with animal contact, which can generate positive emotions and healing. The dog is typically owned by the person handling it and it is often their personal pet. These dogs are usually trained with specific commands to provide comfort/affection to people in various situations; from sitting with a child who is learning to read to visiting a senior in assisted living. Often the handlers of these dogs are health care professionals or staff at a particular facility, but they might also be volunteers. This is a highly reward.ing “job” for these dogs and their humans, in addition to being a wonderful experience for those they are interacting with!
• SERVICE DOGS A service dog is a highly skilled dog that is used by a person for their own rehabil.itation. They are specialized to work with people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress dis.order)/psychological conditions, autism, mo.bility/hearing/visual impairment, seizures, diabetes, medical alerts, and more. Service dogs are allowed access to any public place. These dogs are trained to perform tasks such as alerting for help in the event of a seizure or changes in blood sugar levels. “Alerting” could mean barking or nudging the own.er/person to get their attention, so they can take action. Other tasks include: picking up dropped items, opening/closing doors/draw.ers/refrigerators, and comforting their owner/helping with the challenges of PTSD. These dogs are critical companions for many people and help them manage daily life.
• EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOGS Emotional support animals (ESA) are a companion animal (often a dog) that pro.vides comfort/support in forms of affection and companionship for an individual. This person may suffer from various mental/emo.tional conditions; anxiety, depression, bipo.lar disorder, among others. An ESA is not required to perform any specific tasks or be profesionally-trained. They are meant sole.ly for emotional stability and unconditional love. Emotional support dogs are identified by wearing an emotional support dog vest/tag, letting the public know what it’s job is. An ESA is allowed to live in a place where there is a “no pet policy” and fly in the cabin of the airplane (without additional fees). A letter from the health professional is required and is presented to airline staff when flying or to a landlord when renting a home.
So as you can see, these dogs have im.portant jobs/tasks and play an important role in the lives of the humans they touch. We at Glacial Ridge Vet Clinic take care of a vari.ety of service animals for our clients.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us: 320-634-3558.
Uniting Hands, Hearts & Healing