Therapy Animals – The Different Types and Their Benefits

Animals serve as amazing companions, loyal protectors, and, for some, they can even save your life. There are many different ways in which an animal can support those with mental or physical disabilities. Provided below are three main areas in which animals can enrich your life and provide you necessary assistance, love, and support.

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals are beneficial to individuals that are suffering from severe mental health disorders. They are companion animals that provide therapeutic support, unconditional love, and comfort to those in need. Mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other emotional conditions that cause severe symptoms to the point that it disables individuals. Dogs and cats typically fulfill the role of an emotional support animal, but other domestic animals can be trained as well. These animals are not required to receive specialized training or perform certain tasks for a disability, however, making sure that they are housebroken and well behaved around other people and animals is highly recommended.

Under The Fair Housing Amendments Act, individuals are granted the right to live with your emotional support animal despite living in an apartment or resident that bans pets. It is necessary to provide a current letter from your doctor or mental health professional stating their recommendation for your emotional support animal to a landlord. This letter can also be used when traveling on an airplane, under the Air Carrier Access Act you are allowed to fly with your emotional support animal.

Therapy Animals

Therapy animals, typically dogs, play a special role in providing comfort and affection to individuals in a hospital, retirement home, nursing home, hospice, schools, or other situations that will support those in need. There are three main classifications of therapy animals:

Therapeutic Visitation Animals: These are household pets that are trained and taken to hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and other locations, who provide comfort and joy for people that are living away from home due to mental or physical illnesses.

Animal Assisted Therapy Animals: These animals work with physical and occupational therapists in a rehabilitation setting to assist individuals in meeting their recovery goals.

Facility Therapy Animals: These animals work in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. They assist residents that have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other mental illnesses, and are generally cared for and provided by the facility.

To have an animal become certified as a therapy animal they must be well-tempered, obedient, clean and well-groomed, current on all vaccines, well behaved around other dogs and strangers, at least one year of age, and well socialized. They must also pass an examination to test their obedience and temperament. Most therapy groups may also require that the animal passes the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. It is important to contact a local therapy dog organization in your area to learn more about their specific certification requirements and to schedule an examination.

Service Dogs

Service Dogs are really amazing because they can be trained to support a wide array of disabilities. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dogs are specifically trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. Some of these special types of service dogs include Seizure Response Dogs, Psychiatric Service Animals, Autism Assistance Dogs, Mobility Support Dogs, Medical Alert Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Severe Allergy Alert Dogs, Visual Assistance Dogs, and Diabetic Alert Dogs. Service dogs are allowed in all public and private facilities and businesses unless their presence would interfere with the safety obligations of the facility.

When the Case Managers at Feinberg Consulting are hired to provide support to individuals and families in need, they look at a wide array of rehabilitative and recovery resources that match the need of their clients. That may even include a visit from man’s best friend. From recovering from a catastrophic car accident, substance use disorder, or aging health concern, therapy animals can provide incredible support and comfort during times of need. If you or a loved one could benefit from case management services, call 877.538.5425 to speak to a professional today.

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section. .
Wisch, Rebecca F. “FAQs on Emotional Support Animals.” Animal Legal & Historical Center. Michigan State University College of Law, 2015. https://www.animallaw.info/article/faqs-emotional-support-animals.
“Service Animals.” Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. National Network Information, Guidance, and Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2014. https://adata.org/factsheet/service-animals.

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  1. I have a small chihuahua. To me I consider him a therapy dog because he always with me. He watches me and he never leave me. I have many brothers and sisters who abuse me when I was a child. None of them knows exactly where I am because we doesn’t communicate at all. My children grown and they out on their own. I don’t have company useless my children thinks about me at time. I am legally retired because of health reason. Polo has been there for me for years. The problem is this apartment I am trying to get into don’t take dogs unless the are Therapy dogs. What are the things I need to have to show that this dog is needed for mental health issues? Where do I go to get such papers? I will not take the pills for my medical condition.

    1. Hello Linda, thank you for sharing. In order for your dog to be officially certified as a Therapy Dog you and your dog must past an examination to test his obedience and temperament. Most therapy groups may also require that your dog pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. You can learn more about their requirements here: http://www.akc.org/events/cgc/cgc_bystate.cfm. Contact a local therapy dog organization in your area to learn more about their specific certification requirements, and to schedule an examination.
      It may also be beneficial to look into getting your dog certified as an Emotional Support Dog. For additional information visit this link: http://usdogregistry.org/information/information-on-emotional-support-dogs/

    2. I can also advise you a proven website that provide documentation for your dog. For sure, you can register your dog as a therapy dog, you just need to contact these guys, they provide you with a professional view and connect with a mental health professional. Everything online and very fast. I will share a link for your interest: https://certifymypet.com/register-emotional-support-dog/

  2. Hello there! I have literally one of the best dogs in the world! I believe she could also bring happiness & comfort to many others. How would I go about training her to become an official therapy dog? Thanks for your help!

  3. HI I had to put my pookie down last November 19th 2015 but recently I had hip replacement went to Whitehall Deerfield for physical therapy and before leaving met a therapy dog and my passion came alive again! I knew I would do this for others and love doing it! I just recently got my little non-shedding Shipoo Muddy! She loves people and I have to get her trained but how she loves people gave me my answer of what I need to do to put smiles on people’s faces with her love! She looks like a little e-wok! What’s next

  4. I would like my dog to be a therapy dog. But I’m concern of bringing germs and diseases back home after their visit, especially to Hospitals and hospice. Any advise? Carina

  5. I think there are no people who did not love Dog. I love Dog from my childhood when I was 9 years old. A dog was lived on my family. But when I don’t stay at my home, my mother or father takes him. That day are gone. And still, now I have own 2 dogs on my home. And my little girl also plays with him. I don’t know others country people. If they really love dogs or not. But all the American loves the dogs. And I think also they take good care about them!

  6. My brother might benefit from alternative animal therapy using an animal-assisted therapy dog to help him recover from his illness. As long as the dog is well-tempered, he’ll be able to focus on healing. If it can assist with his balance, he’ll be able to walk normally like he used to.

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  8. We have a facility therapy dog who actually belongs to the facility, but goes home each evening and on weekends with his handler. The facility is a substance abuse treatment facility, and there is often a great deal of turnover. We are wondering how many years a facility therapy dog should be in service before he is tapered down for retirement. The dog is not old, but does not seem to be enjoying the work as he used to. We have had him for 3 years. I have been searching the internet for answers, but only see responses regarding service or assistance dogs, and not therapy dogs. Can you help us answer this question?

    Thanks so much.

  9. “…The service and dogs were outstanding. The staff that came with dogs are very friendly and experienced. The best dog to play with…”. For more information visit this website

  10. “… The experience of having Dog Therapy was fantastic. I love the little dog very much. Looking forward to have more session with the same dog…”

  11. My name is Hailey Pinto. I’m a senior in high school that is currently doing a study on therapy dogs. I’d like to ask you a question to find out your view on the impact of therapy dogs in our world.

    “How have therapy dogs affected our world today? How have they helped us cope?”

    If you could also provide any additional information on how to train a therapy dog, that’d be perfect.

    Thank you so much!
    Hailey Pinto

  12. Your blog is really helpful and informative. But I have a question, Is the process of getting therapy animal, emotional support animal or service dog different? I hope you will reply my question soon.

  13. It’s awesome that companion animals can provide therapeutic support. My sister has been telling me about how she wants to get a dog in the coming months. I’ll share this information with her so that she can look into her options for professionals who can help her train it properly.

  14. I was surprised when I read that dogs therapy for humans. would it really work for human beings? Would it beneficial for me because I have a dog? waiting for your next post.

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