From our Evaluators

Tami Harbolt comments :

Therapy animals are not service animals!

Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act because they are trained to perform a task for their owner. ....Read More

.......By law you are only allowed to ask what task they perform and if they are used for a disability. If they’re behaving inappropriately, they can be asked to leave. This is how you can find out if someone is faking. Service dogs usually don’t bark, eliminate, or engage with people or other animals when working. You should never ask to pet them. There are other exclusions for service dogs and you can learn more at https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html. There are also exclusions for service dogs “in training,” according to the government website.

Therapy dogs are also not emotional support animals.
Emotional support animals are not protected by the ADA and they can’t go anywhere. They can be protected in housing and some travel. That’s ALL. Businesses do not have to allow ESAs inside.
Therapy dogs, like Violet or Lily (pictures below), typically work with their owner to bring love and comfort to people. Sometimes they help with physical, occupational, or emotional therapy. We have to be invited into a facility. We are not protected under any laws. You can ask to pet them. They should be interested in being touched and engage with you.
Anyone can slap a vest on a dog and claim it’s a service or therapy dog, but that doesn’t mean they were trained to perform a service. Imposters are all over the place. That’s a shame, because service dogs do Great things, like help people avoid injuries (some dogs can detect seizures before they occur), see to cross the street, answer the door, pick things up off the floor, turn on and off lights, prevent and deescalate anxiety and panic attacks, and calm persons suffering from PTSD. They shouldn’t be passed off as service dogs if they aren’t trained to do a task that could save a life.

 

Tami Harbolt

WAGS Evaluator

specevents@kywags.org