January 20, 2022

U.S. Veterans

U.S.A Veterans News, Support & Information

Going to the Dogs: Service Dog vs Emotional Support Dog

3 min read

Veterans Tip of the Week: Going to the Dogs

I am keeping the discussion only to dogs. There is a fundamental difference between a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Dog. They do not have the same training, do not have the same public access accommodations, and are treated differently by the VA.

Service Dog:
– A Service Dog is prescribed as part of comprehensive treatment and support plan,
– Specifically trained to perform work or tasks for the person with a disability: guiding the blind, alerting the deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting or protecting a person suffering a seizure, reminding an owner to take medication, calming a person with PTSD or anxiety issues
– Not a pet, but a working animal
– Public Accommodation allowed under Americans with Disabilities Act
– Housing Accommodation allowed under the Fair Housing Act
– Air Travel Accommodation allowed under the Air Carrier Access Act
– If approved by the VA (through the Prosthetic and Sensory Aid Service) veterinary care for the service dog is covered, but not getting the dog itself, nor routine dog ownership expenses (grooming, food, over the counter meds like heartworm and flea/tick control)
VA’s Service Dog page: https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/ServiceAndGuideDogs.asp
VA’s FAQ on Service Dogs: https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/Guide_And_Service_Dogs_Frequently_Asked_Questions_FAQS.asp

Emotional Support Dog:
– An Emotional Support Dog is prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment and support plan
– Not specifically trained, mere presence provides the benefit
– Considered a pet, not a service dog or working animal
– Public Accommodation not allowed under Americans with Disabilities Act – no different than any pet
– Housing Accommodation allowed under the Fair Housing Act
– Air Travel Accommodation allowed under the Air Carrier Access Act
– Currently animal care Not supported by the VA – veterinary care is on you

Service dog vests do not seem to be standardized and anyone can buy a vest slap it on the family dog and pretend it’s a service dog or an emotional support animal, but here is why I recommend you not do this. There are 23 states with Fake Service Dog laws on the books and more coming down the line. NH has had one since 2015, and MA has legislation pending. https://www.propertyware.com/blog/states-fake-service-dog-laws/

Bottom line, a service dog and an emotional support dog, fill different needs. If you need one or the other, it should be a prescribed part of your overall healthcare. This article has some great places to start looking: https://www.rover.com/blog/getting-a-service-dog/

Connect with me if you have questions on that side of this issue. As always, please feel free to PM me if you have questions regarding you VA Benefits. If I don’t know the answer, we will find it together. #gogetrated

This, and all of my videos are hung on my veterans support YouTube Channel: Veterans Advice Hub (https://www.youtube.com/c/veteransadvicehub) Please Like and Subscribe – 40+ Videos posted and more to come!

If you want something a bit more interactive, and for more tips on VA and to join an active online veteran community, check out Veterans Advice Hub at http://rheebo.com/find-an-interest/activity/groupid/106

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