emotional support service animal

Service Animal Questions Including How to Qualify your Pet

Our readers have asked many questions regarding service and therapy (emotional support) animals and we have done our best to get you the answers to the most importany questions.

History of Service Animals 

The phrase, “A dog is a man’s best friend” may have been coined hundreds of years ago, but it still applies in today’s world. As early as 300 B.C., there have been records of dogs assisted in murder cases and a service animal. The keen senses of a dog are more valuable than one might think. The first use of dogs in the police academy began in 1895 in Belgium.

The first school that began training dogs is The Seeing Eye, Inc and it began it courses in 1929. Over the years, service animals have become increasingly popular and protected by the state. One of the most important acts that involves service animals is the American with Disabilities Act, signed in 1990. The act gives people who suffer from disabilities the right to a service animal.  

What is a Service Animal? 

Trained animals that can perform specific tasks for disabled people are considered service animals. The most common animals used as service animal is a dog. Not only are dogs cute and lovable, they can be trained to assist those who need extra help.

Although the most common service animal is a dog, it is not the only animal used for this job. Birds, horses and pigs have also paid their dues and have spent their time as service animals. Although these types of animals were considered service animals in the past, they no longer fit in this category. By law since 2011, the only animal allowed to be a service animal is a dog and in some cases, small ponies. Below are some of the reasons one might need a service animal. 

  • Assist in guiding or seeing 
  • Provides assistance in grabbing a wheelchair  
  • Assistance to noise 
  • Assistance to diabetic person to alert breath 
  • Assistance in seizure awareness 
  • Helps retrieve requested items such as medications  

Great Qualities of Dogs 

Dogs make the best kind of service animals because of the following: 

  • Fur can regulate body temperature 
  • Extremely sensitive ears 
  • Amazing night vision 
  • Ability to see movement faster than humans 
  • Highly exceptional sense of smell 
  • Delicate use of mouth if trained properly 
  • Extremely fast 
  • Can easily make turns and abrupt stops 

How to Qualify? 

There are many steps to take in order to qualify as a service animal. Below are the steps and requirements to be becoming the proud owner of a service animal.  

  • Trained: There is no way that a dog can work as a service animal if it has not been properly trained. Most service dogs will have gone to school to receive the proper etiquette on being a service animal.  
  • Properly Controlled: A service dog should always be controlled. This should include wearing a harness and/or leash.  
  • Learning the type of breed: While it may be acceptable for almost all dog breeds to qualify as service animals, the most common types of breeds include German Shephards and Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. Understanding the type of dog breed you own is important in understanding the behavioral risks of the dog.  
  • Qualifications: In order to pass as a service animal, dogs cannot appear to hyper in public, have no aggressive behavior or request affection.  


Service dog owners that are in need of registered their dogs can do so here. Some of the important benefits of registering your service dog are: no hassles when flying, allowed on public beaches and are accepted at all hotels. At this website, service dog owners can purchase IDs, dog vests, harnesses and patches. If someone is looking for a little extra comfort for their beloved service dog, then the service dog raincoat is a great gift! 

A wonderful advantage to owning a service animal is the “no pet” policy should not apply to you. Landlords and building owners cannot legally request you leave the property or your home. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it states that the breed, size, and weight of an emotional support animal should not be taken into consideration when one is registering their emotional support animal.

Although an emotional support animal differs from a service animal, both parties are equally valued. As opposed to emotional support animals, service animals are allowed in almost every setting, such as cafeterias, clinics and exam rooms.


What is Service a Service Dog vs Emotional Support Therapy Animal?

A service dog performs very specific tasks based on the training they received to help their handlers overcome disabilities. They are not for petting and play a very important role in their owner’s life. A seeing-eye dog is a great example of a service dog.

Therapy dogs are also trained but they help from an emotional side of things. being pet, hugged and held are standard parts of their jobs. You will find them in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and private individuals.

Can a Cat be a Service Animal?

Currently, no. A cat can not be a service animal as currently defined by the ADA, but it can be used as an emotional support (therapy) animal.

We love cats and they can help people with depression and sadness for sure. But presently, the Americans with Disabilities Act only qualifies dogs and small ponies as service animals.