ESAs and Service Animals

The Differences Between Emotional Support Dogs and Service Dogs

Any individual with an emotional or psychological disability can have emotional support animal as a companion with the recommendation of a licensed mental health professional. Although  emotional support animals can be an important part of a treatment plan for those suffering from emotional distress, they are not considered service animals under the ADA.

  • Unlike service dogs who are custom trained to perform specific tasks for their disabled partnesr, there is no formal training needed to be an emotional support animal. Their primary role is to provide companionship and comfort to their partners suffering from psychological disorders such as chronic depression, anxiety or PTSD.
  • Service Dogs work to help their owners perform tasks they cannot perform on their own. An emotional support animal provides these therapeutic benefits from their presence alone.
  • To have an ESA, a doctor’s note is required. This recommendation letter must be written within the last year and must specify that an ESA will alleviate their symptoms in order to be allowed in housing and air travel.