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The Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Dog (and Why That's Important)

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While there are many ways to improve mental health such as going to therapy, self-care, and medication if necessary, one option that is often misunderstood is the importance of animals, specifically emotional support animals (ESAs), to our mental health.

What is an emotional support animal? First, an ESA is not the same thing as a service dog. Service dogs undergo specific training and must perform a specific task for their handler.

Service dogs are allowed in all areas in which the public is generally allowed. Service dogs are not “pets.” Emotional support animals, on the other hand, are not traditional “pets” in the sense that they are considered more to be an assistive aid such as a wheelchair.

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