When we think of service dogs, the first thing that comes to mind is a service dog for the blind. Just as dogs for the blind help a person with a physical disability have a better quality of life, a Psychiatric Service Dog can help a person with a mental disability to achieve a greater sense of control and independence. Psychiatric Service Dogs are trained to assist with everyday chores as well as limit the symptoms associated with mental illness.
A Psychiatric Service Dog may be trained to detect the onset of a psychiatric episode and reduce the severity or extent of the episode. This may include limiting or preventing destructive or self-destructive behaviors, confusion and anxiety, getting medication or a phone, providing tactile stimulation or pressure on the chest/abdomen, or seeking the help of another person.
Service dogs assist people with many conditions that are not visible such as hearing impairment, diabetes, PTSD; post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety/panic attacks.
However, an emotional support dog is not a psychiatric service dog and is not legally recognized by the ADA. Additionally, an emotional support dog does not qualify for the advantages and protections provided by the ADA.
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service dogs as “dogs that have individual training to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”
Therapy dogs and ESD, emotional support dogs are not service dogs! Support/therapy dogs are not trained to do a specific task to assist a person with a disability to ensure that person’s safety and well-being and enhance everyday life that would otherwise be limited.