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Markus Olson
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Markus Olson
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Emotional Support Animal Vs. Service Animal Major Differences - 2021 Guide



In the last few years, there has been a great increase in the number of emotional support animals. You have probably used the terms emotional support dog and service dog interchangeably and without giving much attention to it. But in reality, there is a great difference that separates ESA Letter from service dogs. Understanding these differences will help you to properly choose animals for your needs. So, let’s see a difference between service animals and ESA in this article.



What is a service animal?


Under ADA title II and III, a service animal is any dog that is competent and well trained to perform tasks for a person with an intellectual, physical, mental, or sensory disability. Service dogs are selected for their adaptability, calm personalities, and ability to learn difficult and challenging tasks. They go through a process of rigorous training before being qualified as a service dog.  


What is an emotional support animal?


ESA is an animal that provides emotional support to people with mental disabilities and does not need any special kind of training. ESA relieves loneliness, provides companionship, and helps people with anxiety, depression, and certain phobias. For example, can dogs eat blueberries, yes they can. Blueberries are a superfood rich in antioxidants, which prevent cell damage in humans and canines alike.




Service animals have a large list of responsibilities that can range from protecting people from seizures to guiding people who are deaf. These animals are trained to help people suffering from mental and physical disabilities such as PTSD, anxiety, diabetes, seizures, visual impairments, etc. They help them in their daily tasks which otherwise are difficult for their owners to do because of their disabilities. On the other hand, ESAs serves more as a companion for their owners and does not need any specific training to complete tasks.




Service dogs are more frequently needed as they help their owner in performing physical tasks. Due to this, they are given legal protection under the American Disabilities Act that ESA doesn’t get. You can take your service everywhere where you want as they cannot be denied access legally. On the other hand, an emotional support dog letter doesn’t have the same legal protections. If you have an ESA, then it may not be allowed in areas such as shopping malls, hotels, or other public places. Legal protection of an ESA is only limited to air travel and housing. ESA is protected under the Fair Housing Act which states that individuals cannot be discriminated against based on their disabilities when searching for housing. 




The certification for both these animals varies. Understanding the difference between ESA and service dogs will allow you to receive the right certification. Only a specifically trained dog can be legally certified as a service dog whereas any pet can be considered as an ESA. For information, can dogs eat strawberries? Yes, Strawberries are full of fiber and vitamin C.


If you are looking to acquire certification, then it is important to have a disability diagnosed by a mental health professional or a doctor or you should carry an ESA letter with you. You can also get an ESA letter online to enjoy all benefits of living with your pet. They will issue you an ESA letter stating how animals will be of benefit to you.


The letter also provides evidence that your dog is a legitimate emotional support dog. If your landlord starts to demand an ESA registration number so they can search your pet on a registry, then understand that there is no such requirement. Your ESA is protected under the Air Carrier Access Act which allows your ESA to accompany you in the aircraft cabin. 


On the other hand, if you have a service dog then it is best to make him wear a colored vest as it will tell other people that it’s a service dog.

Useful Resources:


Top Canned Dog Food Recommended By Vets In 2021 Guide


ESA Proprietor's Manual For Utilizing Guillotine Dog Food - 2021 Guide


Benefits of having an Emotional Support Hamster - 2021 Guide


Will a doctor give you an ESA letter - 2021 Guide


How To Pick The Right Breed Of An ESA Dog? — 2021 Guide

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