Common Misconceptions About Service & Support Animals

There are some common misconceptions about service, support and therapy animals

First off, they are not the same thing, with service animals being trained for specific tasks, support animals offering support to a specific person, and therapy animals offering comfort to many

Dogs aren’t the only service animals out there, and airlines don’t need a letter from a doctor proving you need your animal

These days we’ve been hearing a lot about animals that assist people, and in most cases it isn’t always positive, especially when it comes to airlines limiting which animals they will and won’t allow on planes. But the truth is, some animals are truly needed by people, and in a lot of cases people are getting the wrong idea about service animals, emotional support animals and more. 

Common misconceptions include:

  • Service animals, support animals and therapy animals are the same– Service animals have specific jobs and are trained for them, like guiding blind people, or helping deaf people hear doorbells. Some are even trained to help people with psychiatric disorders, like PTSD. Emotional support animals provide comfort for their owners, and aren’t necessarily trained to perform tasks, while therapy animals are trained to interact with people but not necessarily specific people. 
  • Service animals are always dogs– In addition to dogs, the Americans with Disabilities Act lists miniature horses as service animals, although the Air Carriers Act, with regards to travel, says “any animal” can be considered a service animal, except for spiders, snakes and unusual species.
  • Emotional support animals can go anywhere service animals are allowed– In truth, while service animals have a lot of access to public places, emotional support animals are more restricted on where they’re allowed, with restaurants, stores and more allowed to bar them from coming in. 
  • Airlines can demand a letter from a doctor for your service animal –Actually, they aren’t allowed to, but they can ask if your animal is a service animal and what work they perform for you. Although they can ask for documentation from a mental health professional if it’s a psychiatric animal. 
  • Real service animals have been certified, registered and professionally trained– Actually there’s no national certification or registry for service animals. 
  • A service animal or emotional support animal vest is a sign of legitimacy– Nope, and in fact, anyone can purchase a service animal vest, or even tag online. It’s a dog’s actions, not what they wear, that tell you if they are a real service animal.
  • If you’re sitting next to a big support animal on a flight, you just have to deal with it– Support animals aren’t are supposed to sit on the floor and can’t block the aisle, but if it’s so big you can try and get moved, but it’s up to the flight attendant.

Source: The Washington Post

Common Misconceptions About Service & Support Animals

Common Misconceptions About Service & Support Animals

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