How to Make Your Dog a Service Dog

Which Service Type Does Your Animal Qualify For?

Click to register your dog as a service dog

Service Dogs & Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD)

Service dogs are dogs (and in some cases, miniature horses) trained to perform major life tasks to assist people with physical or psychiatric disabilities. Service dogs and psychiatric service dogs are sometimes referred to as assistance animals, assist animals, support animals, or helper animals depending on the country and the animal's function.

For a person to legally qualify to have a service dog, he/she must have a disability that substantially limits his/her ability to perform at least one major life task without assistance.

To qualify as a service dog, the dog must be individually trained to perform that major life task. All breeds and sizes of dogs can be trained as service dogs.

To legally qualify as a psychiatric service dog (PSD), the dog must be prescribed for a person by his/her therapist (a licensed mental health professional) in a properly formatted letter that specifically states that a PSD is needed to perform necessary tasks that the person is unable to perform for him/herself during certain events.

If you have no therapist or your therapist is unwilling to write such a letter, we recommend using Chilhowee Psychological Services; a licensed and legitimate mental health agency who specializes in online disability assessments and offers a letter of prescription to clients who qualify: Chilhowee Psychological Services.

Federal law (ADA, Fair Housing Act, Air Carrier Access Act) protects you to be accompanied by your dog anywhere that a person would normally go. This also includes "no pet" housing and flying in the cabin of an aircraft with no fee for the dog.

Click to register your dog as an ESA

Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that has been prescribed for a person by his/her licensed therapist (a licensed mental health professional) in a properly formatted letter. This letter should state that the person is determined to be emotionally or psychiatrically disabled and that the presence of the animal is necessary for the disabled person's mental health.

If you have no therapist or your therapist is unwilling to write such a letter, we recommend using Chilhowee Psychological Services; a licensed and legitimate mental health agency who specializes in online disability assessments and offers a letter of prescription to clients who qualify: Chilhowee Psychological Services.

ESAs are also sometimes referred to as comfort animals, comfort pets, or companion animals. Dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, mini-pigs, hedgehogs, and many more species may qualify as an ESA. These animals do not require specific task-training because it is the very presence of the animal that mitigates the negative symptoms associated with a person's disorder. An ESA can be any age.

The Air Carrier Access Act 49 U.S.C. 41705, Dept. of Transportation 14 C.F.R. Part 382, Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 are the laws that protect an emotionally disabled person and his/her ESA.

The legal protections an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) has are to:
  • Fly with its emotionally or psychologically disabled handler in the cabin of an aircraft without being charged a pet fee. Click here for detailed information on Flying with Your Emotional Support Animal.
  • Qualify for no-pet housing (that also includes limited size, breed, or species housing) without being charged a pet fee. Click here for detailed information on Housing Rights For You And Your ESA.
  • No other public or private entity (motels, restaurants, stores, trains, taxis, busses, theatres, parks, beaches, libraries, zoos, etc.) is required to allow your ESA to accompany you and in all other instances, your ESA has no more rights than a pet. That means they aren't protected by law to accompany you into any public place that does not allow pets. That doesn't mean these places won't let you, it just means that they are not required to, by law.
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