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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-31-2015, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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Therapy Dogs (moved)

I need a little advice about therapy dogs. I work for a psychiatrist and I had a patient call today and ask for a letter stating her dog is necessary for emotional support. She is moving into a condo that has size restrictions on the pets it allows so she is asking the Dr to write a letter stating her dog is necessary for emotional support. I asked a few questions and this dog has had no training of any kind. I don't want to be a hard ass, all dogs provide emotional support but I also don't want to promote abuse of therapy dogs either. Is there any criteria for this at all. It seems to me that a therapy dog would have a CHC at minimum. Am I wrong? Is there any guidelines about this?


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-31-2015, 09:17 PM
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Therapy dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Service Dogs are all very different.

Therapy dogs visit people in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, etc. and provide comfort to those other than their handler. They must be invited to these places and have no public access rights.

Emotional support animals, what I'm assuming this woman is asking about, are allowed to live in places that may not otherwise allow pets. They are also allowed to fly on airplanes. They are not allowed in stores or any other public places that don't allow normal pets. They don't have to have any formal training, just a doctor's note saying it's necessary for the person to have the animal.

Service animals are task-trained dogs that mitigate a handler's disability. These are the only ones that are allowed in public places. They must undergo intense training.

Now as far as if it is ethical for a doctor to write a letter saying her dog is needed for emotional support just for her to get around the size restriction, I guess that's up to the ethics of the individual doctor...

So many people fake all of the above types of dogs and cause so many problems for people who really benefit from them.

(I'm a puppy raiser for a service dog foundation so I have strong feelings about this topic. )
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-01-2015, 02:52 PM
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Thank you for checking out the information before writing such a letter.

The following is from Service Dog Central:

An Emotional Support Animal is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides theraputic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life. If a doctor determines that a patient with a disabling mental illness would benefit from the companionship of an emotional support animal, the doctor write letters supporting a request by the patient to keep the ESA in "no pets" housing or to travel with the ESA in the cabin of an aircraft.

ESAs are not task trained like service dogs are. In fact little training at all is required so long as the animal is reasonably well behaved by pet standards. This means the animal is fully toilet trained and has no bad habits that would disturb neighbors such is frequent or lengthy episodes of barking. The animal should not pose a danger to other tenants or to workmen. But there is no requirement for fancy heeling or mitigating tasks since emotional support animals are not generally taken anywhere pets would not ordinarily go without permission (the exception being to fly in the cabin of an aircraft, even if the airline does not ordinarily accept pets).

..... It is important to note that having a diagnosis of a mental illness, by itself, is not sufficient to qualify a person for an ESA unless that illness is so severe it disables them. Only a judge can truly determine whether a person is legally disabled. However, a doctor can probably make a medical determination of a person's disability and on that basis prescribe an ESA. To qualify as disabled under federal disability rights laws, a person must experience substantial limitations on one or more major life activities because of their mental illness.

Permission has been given to me to give large sections of quotes from this site.
Emotional Support Animals | Service Dog Central

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-03-2015, 11:56 PM
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how does this apply to veterans with severe ptsd.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-04-2015, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huntergreen View Post
how does this apply to veterans with severe ptsd.
There are Psychiatric Service dogs for people with mental illnesses and PTSD service dogs for people with PTSD. They just have to be trained to perform tasks that help a handler with their disability. They have public access rights just like guide dogs for blind people.

If they have an untrained dog or a dog who just provides "comfort", this is not a service dog according to the ADA. It could be an ESA, but it would not have public access rights.
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