What makes service dogs different?

Dear Homeward Bound,
I was interested in the letter about service dogs and it made me realize I don’t understand how service dogs are different from emotional support dogs. Is there a difference?
Dear Curious,
Great question! While I do believe that all companion animals provide emotional support to us, the term “emotional support” is used to describe animals (don’t have to be just dogs) who are prescribed by a licensed mental health professional for a person with a disabling mental illness.
Emotional support animals are different from service dogs in that they are not trained to perform a specific act for a person and they are not allowed to go anywhere with their person. In other words, they are not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and cannot go into restaurants and stores.
One law that does include emotional support animals is the Fair Housing Act. This means that if an apartment says “no pets” but a person has an official emotional support animal that has been prescribed for them by a licensed mental health professional, then that pet will be allowed and cannot be penalized by a “pet deposit” or other charge.
I hope this helps.
Jessica Danyow
Homeward Bound

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