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 Service, Emotional Support and Therapy Animals

I hope this clears up some confusion regarding the classification of these service and support animals. Dr.L

Service, Emotional Support and Therapy Animals

New AVMA resource clarifies roles of service, support and therapy animals
Most people are aware of the role of service animals, such as guide dogs, but may be less familiar with other types of assistance and therapy animals — including why, where and how they may be granted access to public spaces and how their roles may impact what is needed for their veterinary care. This should help clarify the different roles of service, assistance and therapy animals, including those used for emotional support
Animals can play a very important role assisting people with disabilities and as part of therapeutic activities. Most people are aware of the role of service animals, such as guide dogs, but other types of assistance animals may be less familiar.
A more recently developed legal category of assistance animals is the emotional support animal (ESA). These are animals that provide companionship and emotional support for people diagnosed with a psychological disorder. They are documented by a letter from a human health professional, which legally guarantees that they may live with their handler and accompany them on aircraft, exempt from the fees that would be charged for a companion animal.
Some people misrepresent their animals as assistance animals in order to bring them to places where pets are not allowed, to avoid fees, or out of a misunderstanding of the animal’s role. It is important for veterinarians to assist their clients in correctly identifying their animals, and to provide care and advice consistent with the animal’s role.
The Legal Context For Assistance Animal Use – Definitions
Assistance Animal
“Any animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability,” as defined by the ADA.4 “Individuals with a disability may be entitled to keep an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing facilities that otherwise impose restrictions or prohibitions on animals. In order to qualify for such an accommodation, the assistance animal must be necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling or to participate in the housing service or program. Further, there must be a relationship, or nexus, between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides. If these requirements are met, a housing facility, program or service must permit the assistance animal as an accommodation, unless it can demonstrate that allowing the assistance animal would impose an undue financial or administrative burden or would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing program or services.”
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (FHEO-2013-01)
Service Animal
“Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 (Section 35.136)

Any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a qualified person with a disability; or any animal shown by documentation to be necessary for the emotional well-being of a passenger… Psychiatric service animals are recognized as service animals, but are considered to be emotional support animals and, therefore, subject to the applicable regulatory requirements, i.e. documentation.
Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and CFR Part 382
Emotional Support Animal
An emotional support animal (ESA) may be an animal of any species, the use of which is supported by a qualified physician, psychiatrist or other mental health professional based upon a disability-related need. An ESA does not have to be trained to perform any particular task. ESAs do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but they may be permitted as reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities under the Fair Housing Act. The Air Carrier Access Act provides specific allowances for ESAs traveling on airlines, though documentation may need to be provided.
Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. Part 3604) and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and C.F.R. Part 382.117
Therapy Animal
A therapy animal is a type of animal-assisted intervention in which there is a “goal directed intervention in which an animal meeting specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. Animal-assisted therapy is provided in a variety of settings, and may be group or individual in nature.”
Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and CFR Part 382; AVMA Animal-Assisted Interventions: Definitions
Animal-Assisted Interventions: Definitions

The AVMA recognizes that the human animal bond is important to client and community health. The human animal bond has existed for thousands of years and this relationship is of significant importance for veterinary medicine and human health and wellbeing. As veterinary medicine serves society, it fulfills both human and animal needs.
Animal assisted interventions are included and endorsed by human healthcare providers as cost effective interventions for specific patient populations in various acute and rehabilitative care facilities. Veterinarians, as individuals and professionals, are uniquely qualified to provide community service via such programs and to aid in scientific evaluation and documentation of the health benefits of the human animal bond.
Animal assisted interventions should be governed by basic standards, be regularly monitored, and be staffed by appropriately trained personnel. Animal-assisted interventions should adhere to best practice and have goals (in the areas of health, wellbeing or education) with measurable outcomes. The health and welfare of the humans and animals involved must be ensured. Veterinarians’ involvement in these programs from their inception is critical because they serve as advocates for the health and welfare of animals participating in these programs, and as experts in zoonotic disease transmission.
Definitions
Animal assisted interventions is a broad term that is now commonly used to describe the utilization of various species of animals in diverse manners beneficial to humans. Animal assisted therapy, education, and activities are examples of types of animal assisted intervention.
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a goal directed intervention in which an animal meeting specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. Animal-assisted therapy is delivered and/or directed by health or human service providers working within the scope of their profession. Animal-assisted therapy is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, or cognitive function. Animal-assisted therapy is provided in a variety of settings, and may be group or individual in nature. The process is documented and evaluated.
Animal-assisted education (AAE) is a planned and structured intervention directed and/or delivered by educational and related service professional with specific academic or educational goals.
Animal-assisted activities (AAA) provide opportunities for motivation, education, or recreation to enhance quality of life. Animal assisted activities are delivered in a variety of environments by specially trained professionals, paraprofessionals, or volunteers in association with animals that meet specific criteria.
AAI Resident animals (RA) live in a facility full time, are owned by the facility, and are cared for by staff, volunteers, and residents. Some RA may be formally included in facility activity and therapy schedules after proper screening and training. Others may participate in spontaneous or planned interactions with facility residents and staff.
The use of service animals, which are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities, is not considered to constitute an animal assisted intervention.