What is an Assistance/Service Animal?
Assistance/Service Animal: A dog or possibly another animal that is individually task trained to assist, work with, and benefit a person with a visible or invisible disability or life-altering injuries such as physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental
disability, injury, or disorder. This is different from an ESA.
Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a companion animal (pet) that may provide comfort and emotional support to its owners but is not specifically task-trained for a disability or
evaluated for community engagement.
Some of the Many Benefits of an Assistance/Service Animal
Dogs have a purpose in life. Some dogs are great companions, others have jobs like being trained to search and rescue people, others help out at airports, guard their turf, work with the police, and the military and the list goes on. Dogs with jobs serve alongside and bond with their handlers. They are willing to please, dedicated, and loyal.
Responsibilities and Service Dogs
As amazing as these dogs are, they are a big responsibility. Service dogs are not for everyone, and not all dogs can handle stress or have the ability to be a service dog. Finding the right service dog trainer or service dog training organization requires time to carefully consider individual trainers and training organizations in the marketplace, related laws and regulations pertaining to service dogs.
Service dogs can be costly to acquire, and there may also be long waiting lists to get a service dog. Choosing to select and self-train a service dog also comes with its challenges. Another thing to consider is that service dogs are not pets. They are task-trained working dogs that benefit a person with a disability or other daily living challenges. They need ongoing training, time out to be dogs, veterinary care, grooming, exercise, socialization, equipment, and a good diet. Service dogs, like other dogs, mean extra work around the house and in cars as they travel with their handlers and their families, as the case may be. When making travel plans, it is also important to access information before travelling to ensure the best possible trip, vacation, etc. Even local transportation may require a degree of advocacy to educate people about why service dogs are important.
Circles of Support
Finally, one other important consideration is whether you or someone you know that is considering a service dog has a circle of support in case of an emergency if the end-user is sick and cannot care for their service dog.