There are different types of dogs as defined under the Americans with disabilities act (ADA). There is a lot of confusion in understanding the terms therapy dogs, service dogs, as well as emotional support animals. This paper looks at various definitions and distinguishes the differences among the three types of dogs. It also gives instructions on how to certify therapy dogs, service dogs and emotional dogs. They all serve different duties according to their training and the rights that their owners are granted by the American Disabilities. Some may not be pet dogs as many people would think, and thus, it would be important differentiate the three classes.
First, the service dogs are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as dogs trained individually to perform or work for people with disabilities. Their functions vary differently according to their training. For instance, there are guide dogs for the blind, mobility dogs, hearing dogs, psychiatric service dogs as well medical assistance dogs. The dogs go through a wide training in undertaking their tasks. Some of these service dogs are registered or certified although the American with Disability Act does not require such registration for those service dogs. In addition to that, there is no registration of service dogs that can be recognized by the Disability Act (Davis, Bunnell, & White, 2007).
Certification of service dogs is a lengthy process. The first step is basic obedience test that can be performed (by a professional trainer) to certify that the dog has been trained. The AKC Canine Test is done to show that the dog can work efficiently in public, with a stranger and other dogs. The second step is to practice commands like sit, stand, and come to experience that the dog can work in public.
The third step is giving the dog time to understand the obedience and the commands. Then the dog should be trained to execute obedience behavior on and off. The log training notes should be taken during the training. Documentation of this paperwork is vital since the state laws and the federal differ. Therefore, one needs to know the laws in case he or she meets someone asking about such laws while in public.
Health issues should be well considered. The important vaccination should be done, and certificate for health provided after this test. The dog need to be trained to be social as it is introduced to a new environment that it is expected to offer the services. Then the obedience test should again be reviewed and obedience. Then the paper is presented together with the health and certificate of obedience and command for review. Once certified, the dog becomes a qualified service dog, and it is free to carry out its functions.
For identification purposes, service dogs should wear vests that have patches for identification and unique harness. They are all meant to identify the dogs as guides and can be used for medical purposes.
The second type of dogs is the therapy dogs. These dogs are specially trained to offer comfort and affection to the people in nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, schools and retirement homes. They are also available for individuals with difficulties in learning as well as those people in disaster areas. They have absolutely different duties as compared to service dogs. They have low or stable temperament, easy going personalities and are friendly. The dogs are allowed to interact with the public especially during their duties. Their roles can vary from giving confidence to the disabled children to physical rehabilitation therapy. These types of dog can also go ahead to work in the psychotherapy practices.
There is a set procedure that should be followed to certify therapy dogs. It should be executed or conducted (by the organization) to train, test and then certify the dog. First, registration papers should be obtained from the organization’s website. For instance, some of these organizations include Angel on the leash, American Kennel and many more. If the requirements are certified, the dog can get to the next step where training would be offered. The training can be offered online or through special classes.
However some of the organizations or companies do not offer training to the dog but instead, they take the dog through Canine Good Citizen program for the dog to acquire basic obedience training. From here, the owner of the dog is encouraged to take the dog through regular health checks. Some companies encourage the owners to vaccinate their dogs to with bortatella vaccination, rabies, and DHLPP to continue with the process.
After that, the following crucial step would be to evaluate the therapy dog. This should be done through evaluating the dogs’ behavior through a representative of the organization. This evaluation is usually easy as the dog is expected to obey orders like stay, sit, come and others. The evaluation requires a dog that is not aggressive toward other dogs and among strangers.
Next, the owner is expected to fill out registration paper then submit the paper to the organization. The letter should be accompanied with evaluation and health certification. Also, a picture of the dog should be included for identification. Certification for therapy dogs is not a free exercise and thus, the owner should pay a set amount of money as registration fee while submitting the above indicate paperwork.
The last step is to wait for the approval. If the certificate is finally issued, the dog qualifies to be a therapy dog. A fully certified therapy dog performs duties like affection and comfort to the elderly, hospitalized individuals, children with learning disabilities, and other related duties. Again the dog can visit public facilities like, nursing homes, libraries, hospitals, school and other institutions that require assistance from therapy dogs.In regards to training, therapy dogs can be trained by nearly anyone. However, the dogs must achieve the standards set (by a certain company or organization) to be registered and certified for participation to that organization. The dogs should be handled by their owners although, in case of Animal Assisted Therapy, the dogs can be handled or dealt with by special people or trained professionals (Hutmacher, 2010).
While some organizations and institutions offer these dogs access to care benefits for the patients, customers, guest or clientele, the owner or handlers of the dogs lack the rights to be accompanied by the therapy dogs where pets are not allowed.
Therapy dogs are, therefore, allowed to be in public, but with their handlers. They are supposed to be certified after the achievement of the training required by the American Disabilities Act. After confirmation, the dogs are then registered and allowed to carry out their duties in the respective areas. Again, people are encouraged and allowed to pet therapy dogs since petting would be part of their duties and duties. Therapy dogs are usually in bandanas or vests composed of patches that for identification purposes. I t should be understood that not all the PetSmart locations offer evaluation for the Therapy dogs.
All in all In New York there is a center where such service is offered. For such information one can contact the contact information for the Huntington Station NY location is: 1-631-425-0913.
Again for an evaluator within the same area, you can feel free to contact Harry Lozada in Massapequa Park NY 1-516-578-5809 and Janice Costa in Bethpage NY 1-516-735-8887
Finally, the Emotional Support Animals would not be required to be put through specialized training. Their major roles include providing the disabled owners or handlers with emotional comfort. These Emotional support animals could benefit a disabled person, psychologically, in unexpected ways. The expected main gift of companionship, as well as unconditional concern and affection, could be the expected therapy to cater for a condition for instance, debilitating depression (Charleson, 2013).
While the American Disability Act does not grant handlers or owners of emotional support animals dogs the freedom to be with the animals, the Fair Housing Act allows for the disabled owners who have the emotional support animals residing in a house that posses a “No Pets” policy, representing a reasonable accommodation, the freedom to be with their animals. Since an emotional support animal could not be classified as a "working" or as a normal dog, the dogs as well as their owners are not provided with the equal rights together with protections covered under federal law of American Disabilities Act, representing working service dogs. Therefore, apart from the differences in the definition (in service animals) as well as emotional support animals or dogs, emotional support animals competently qualify for travelling and housing rights.
In conclusion, there are clear differences between therapy dogs, emotional support animals and service dogs. Service dogs perform tasks for the disabled people. They perform a couple of duties and thus, they are of different types. Service dogs must be registered under the American Disabilities Act although it would not be important to register service dogs. They are allowed in public and private areas but only when they are accompanied by their owners or handlers. They are not pets and thus they should not be incorporated in the line of duty.
Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are engaged in therapeutic contact for the purpose of spending time with people or petting. The dogs undergo special training thus passing the Canine Good Citizen test as well as a therapy dog certification test is a must. They are not as trained as service dogs, but they are the types that are well exposed to the people. The dogs are well labeled with vest to identify them. They are allowed to the public places and private areas as well since they are supposed to be petted.
Emotional support Animals are supposed to provide emotional support to the disabled person or for comfort purposes. These dogs do not undergo special training like the other sets of dogs. Their rights are from the Fair Housing Act as well as Air carrier Access Act. They are not allowed in public areas as well private areas unless licensed. Transports of this type of animal especially in aircraft require recommendation by a professional indicating the person travelling should be accompanied by the animal for therapeutic reasons.
Charleson, S. (2013). The Possibility Dogs: What a Handful of Unadoptables Taught Me about
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Davis, M., Bunnell, M., & White, B. (2007). Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog. Crawford: Alpine Publications.
Hutmacher, K. M. (2010). Therapy Dogs. Chicago: Capstone.