Can ESA dogs also work as service animals? - 2022 Guide
The short answer is no.
No, I am afraid an ESA animal and a service dog are two completely separate things. I know that most people assume that there is no difference between a service animal and an ESA but this is far from the truth. The same laws don’t apply to an ESA. Sure, you can get an esa letter for housing but that about it. You can’t ask for more than that with an ESA.
These two categories of animals serve different purposes.
Let me tell you a bit about them so you can get an idea!
An ESA is an emotional support animal. The name says it all as these are dogs that are used to provide emotional support to a person when they are struggling mentally.
So, if a person is suffering from depression, they can get an ESA as long as they have an ESA Letter. This letter is given to you by your therapist. You can get it online too. So far, so good?
Ok, now on to service dogs!
What's the main difference between a service dog and an ESA?
Well, an ESA is clearly for providing emotional support but a service dog is for physical support. You must have seen dogs helping blind people cross the road.
Well, those are service dogs. A service dog does not need to have an emotional support animal letter or any other kind of letter for that matter. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) does not require a service animal to be registered as such.
So, this is the main difference between the two.
Now, let us have a look at the other differences between an ESA and a service animal.
Difference #1: Legal Protection
Ok, first things first.
A major difference here is in terms of the legal protection offered to a service dog versus an ESA.
The ADA is a law that offers legal protection for a service dog and a service dog alone. Since a service dog helps a disabled person with a physical disability, they are deemed highly important and thus they are protected under the ADA.
Difference #2: Training
The training of these two is different as well.
When it comes to a service dog, they are trained for a specific task. Like for a blind person, the dog is trained to help them walk. For a person with a walking disability, the service dog is trained to get them their meds on time.
But an ESA is not trained for a specific task. They are only required to be domesticated.
Difference #3: Public Spaces
There is a major difference between a service dog and an ESA in terms of restrictions. Remember how I mentioned that a service dog has legal protection? This legal protection allows you to take a service dog to public places without any worries. You can take them to hotels , restaurants, and even hospitals.
But the same cannot be said for an ESA. While it is true that ESA letters help with any housing restrictions, you can't take an ESA with you to a restaurant.
Most restaurant owners will not allow it and you can’t do a thing.
Difference #4: Traveling
Do the same laws apply for travelling? Not so much.
The thing here is that commercial airlines do not actually have to comply with the ADA. They have their own laws like the ACAA which protects disbaled people.
But, travel laws are more in favor of ESAs. When you present your emotional support animal letter and a bunch of other documents, airlines won't stop you from taking an ESA on the plane, however, there can always be exemptions.
But this gets complicated with service animals as they are not registered.
Difference #5: Certification
This is where a huge difference appears.
For ESAs, you get ESA letters. There are no such letters for service animals.
If you want to get an animal as an ESA then you simply need to get a letter from your therapist and your dog will become your ESA for one year. ESAs are not registered and you can only legalize the ownership of an ESA by getting this letter.
Service dogs are also not registered. Yes, all that is required for you to have a service dog is that it needs to be well behaved like any normal dog.
Difference #6: Animal Types
Here is where things start to get real interesting.
The ADA’s official website states that a service animal is “a DOG” that is trained to assist a person physically. A dog. That’s it.
This means that only one animal species is recognized as a service animal. This means that you can’t possibly have a service cat.
But things are different when it comes to an ESA. You can practically keep any animal as an ESA. However, species that are endangered do not qualify. Apart from this, people have been known to keep the strangest animals as ESAs such as snakes and other reptiles.
So, a service dog cannot be an ESA and vice versa
But, if you do want an ESA, then you know that the first step is figuring out where to get that letter.
So, go online and search for the best websites that may be able to get you an ESA letter. For more information regarding an ESA letter visit realesaletter.com.
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