Everything You Need to Know About Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

It’s no secret that dogs are many families’ go-to pet.

As man’s best friend, their devotion cements their role in so many people’s lives. One of the most beneficial ways they improve lives is not only through companionship, however.

Service dogs and emotional support animals as trained by Open Range Academy provide profoundly essential functions for their owners. They help people with disabilities or illnesses thanks to their support, ultimately changing the lives of millions.

Confused with one another, service dogs and emotional support animals are different.

Both help their owners navigate their daily lives but do so in significantly varying ways. Read on to learn more about these incredible animals.

What is a Service Dog?

A service dog is ordinarily suited to a specific purpose. Service dogs help their owners with physical disabilities mostly, which often hinder their ability to navigate their lives fully independently. Some of the following are examples of service dogs:

  • Guide Dogs: Easily one of the most well-known types of service dogs, guide dogs typically help the visually impaired to navigate their surroundings.
  • Hearing Dogs: These service dogs are often assigned to those with impaired hearing. They will alert their owners to alarms, the ringing of a phone, or doorbells, among other sounds that require attention.
  • Medical Alert Dogs: In the event of a medical emergency, such as a seizure, collapse, or drop in blood sugar, these service dogs will notify a carer or medical professional of their owner’s state.
  • Mobility Dogs: For those with diminished strength or a similar physical impairment, these service dogs will help their owners to complete tasks such as getting dressed. They often provide them with heightened balance.

A key factor of service dogs is also that they must be a particular species and must receive specific training. This is due to the unique requirements of their role.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal can be any animal from almost any species. It isn’t exclusively a career for dogs.

However, dogs are often chosen for their friendly and loyal temperament. Just some of the mental illnesses that an emotional support animal can help alleviate include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Severe phobias
  • PTSD

Much of this comfort is derived from their company alone. Simply by receiving the unconditional love of an emotional support animal, an owner can source profound reassurance.

Do You Need to Register Your Pet?

Service dogs must register once trained and receive sufficient certification. This is due to the many ‘no pets’ exemptions they receive. Service dogs are allowed on flights and in kitchens where most ordinary pets are not. You may be asked to produce certification to prove this.

Emotional support animals are slightly different. You may find yourself asking ‘Are ESA letters worth the money?’, and in most instances, we are inclined to say yes. Much like with the registration of a service dog, ESA letters prove that your pet is performing an important role.

When boarding a flight or applying for housing with ‘no pets’ rules, you can produce your ESA letters to verify your support animal. Your ESA letter is ordinarily produced via your mental health professional, on letterhead, with the doctor’s official license number.

The content of the letter will determine why you require an emotional support animal. In some instances, this letter will need to be updated annually, so it must also be dated.

Final Thoughts

Though service dogs and emotional support animals have their differences, namely in their purpose, they both share a profound sense of duty. If you feel you could benefit from an ESA, contact your medical health professional today for relevant details on how to move forward.