The two are often confused, but service animals and emotional support animals are not the same thing. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) defines a service animal as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” Examples of these tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, and reminding a person with an illness to take their medication. Service animals are protected under the ADA. This means that businesses, state and local governments, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public must allow service animals to accompany those with disabilities in all areas of a facility where the public is allowed.
On the other hand, an emotional support animal is defined as an animal that helps alleviate a symptom or effect of a person’s disability. Essentially, emotional support animals provide a therapeutic benefit to an individual through companionship. Emotional support animals are considered an assistance animal and are recognized as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Emotional support animals are not considered pets and have no special training. Emotional support animals are not protected by the ADA but are protected under the FHA. This means that “no pet policies,” bans on specific breeds, and size limitations do not apply to those seeking housing. Emotional support animals can be any type of animal, whereas service animals are limited to dogs or, in certain circumstances, miniature horses.
At Grewal Law PLLC, our Michigan trial lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, such as in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. If you are in need of legal help, call (888) 211-5798 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We are prepared to fight for you.