Ryan asked in PetsDogs · 1 decade ago

Service /Therapy Animals?


I have heard that there is no "official" organization that registers/qualifies service/therapy animals. Is this correct?

Are these animals simply designated as such at whim by their owners? If not, what is the name of the organization that handles this?

I am not interested in Google searches, rather info from people in the know.

Thank you.

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    In response to the first answer: service animals can not be any type of animal. The ADA regulations have recently changed so that for public access only dogs can be service animals. This new regulation becomes effective March 15 and since it takes 18-24 months to fully train a service animal, there would be no point in starting the process with an animal that wouldn't qualify long before training was even finished.

    Therapy dogs ARE registered. They are tested, registered and insured so that they can be taken to nursing homes and hospitals to visit patients/residents and cheer them up. While it is up to each individual facility to decide what they require for therapy pet teams, nearly all will require the liability insurance that only comes with testing and registration.

    The top three therapy dog organizations in the US are:




    Please note: there is a significant difference between a therapy dog and a service dog. Specifically:

    1. The owner of a service dog MUST be disabled and the dog must be trained to do specific things the owner cannot do for themselves. This training typically takes 18-24 months.

    2. Anyone can own a therapy dog, regardless of their own mental health or whether they have a disability. Training typically takes about 8 weeks when starting with a well behaved family pet.

    Perhaps you meant to ask about emotional support animals, which are pets belonging to people with severe mental illness (ie those disabled by mental illness). There is no legitimate registration/certification for emotional support animals because there is nothing to test or evaluate. They are just pets. The differences are that they belong to people with mental disabilities AND exceptions are made for them only in "no pets" housing and on commercial aircraft. A person with an ESA has no more right to take their pet anywhere else that pets are not ordinarily permitted without permission from the facility/business/etc. being visited.

    A person with an ESA cannot just designate a pet as an ESA on a whim. They must have supporting evidence of a severe mental illness from a mental health professional who is currently treating the person for mental illness and who believes the presence of the pet is a necessary part of the person's treatment plan. Landlords and airlines have a right to require proof of this that is no more than 12 months old and is on a doctor's letterhead along with his license number.

    There are official organizations which certify service dogs. These are the same organizations that train them. They won't certify a dog trained by someone else because there is no way to fully evaluate the dog, at least not enough to stake one's liability insurance on one, in one single evaluation.

    All businesses that sell certification or registration without providing a qualified examiner to evaluate the animal's training and temperament IN PERSON are scams to bilk people of money for something that has no actual value or meaning.

    A service dog is not designated as such on a whim either. In order to meet the legal definition of "service animal" the dog must be individually trained to perform tasks that the legally disabled owner cannot perform for themselves because of their disability. Dogs failing to meet this definition are not service dogs. Businesses have a right to ask what the dog is trained to do. They also have a right to kick out a dog that is not acting appropriately, is disruptive, is aggressive, or is otherwise a threat to the safety of others. There are other instances as well where service dogs can be refused admittance.

    Falsely claiming a dog as a service dog when the dog has not received the necessary training, or when the handler is not disabled may result in criminal prosecution, fines, or jail time.

    Source(s): I'm a disability advocate specializing in service dog issues.
  • 5 years ago

    The first person that answered has no idea what they are talking about. There is a huge difference between a therapy animal & a service animal. Therapy animals visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc. Service animals assist the disabled. As far as a ferret being a service animal, I've seen states that allow it & other states that don't. If you're going to answer a question, at least educate yourself before giving someone the wrong advice.

  • Brenna
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Service animals and therapy animals are two different things. Service animals are usually bred and raised specifically for the job, an example of an organization being Guide Dog Foundation. On the other hand, sometimes people find that their ordinary pet dogs can sense when something is wrong with them, an example being high blood sugar for diabetics, and can then have their dogs certified for it. Therapy dogs a normal dogs that go through testing for Canine Good Citizen and Therapy so that they are certified to go into nursing homes and hospitals to visit people, one organization is Delta Society. You are correct, though, that it is not completely controlled by the government. There are laws are somewhat incomplete and contradictory. Here is some information that is already on Yahoo Answers:


    Source(s): I handle show dogs, work with breeders, and volunteer at a dog shelter
  • 1 decade ago

    Yes you are correct there is no government or group that qualifies a dog for service dogs or pets (service animals can be any type animal).

    Therapy is different. Your dog must go through therapy training ( there are several dog training schools that offer certification for therapy). They then receive certification form that group.

    Source(s): 20 years canine work
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  • Chix
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Service dogs take many forms, and its probably better if you had a specific inquiry.

    What kind of service dog are you referring to.

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