Emotional Support Animals

What is The Difference Between a Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal?

You may be looking to register your support animal, but you may not be sure if you should register them as a service animal or as an emotional support animal. What is the difference between the two and what do you need to register for each one? Here are the basics to think about as you look to get your service animal registration.


The official definition of a service animal as laid out by The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is as follows. “A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

Emotional Support Animals are defined as, “Any animal that provides emotional support alleviating one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Emotional support animals provide companionship, relieve canadianpharmacymsn.com/loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.”

Basically, the main difference is service animals are specifically dogs who are trained to do certain tasks to benefit their owners. Also, their owners must have one of the disabilities protected by the ADA. Emotional support animals can be any type of animal who benefits the owner by their presence but have no training.


The ADA protects service animals, and you are legally allowed to take your service animal anywhere with you. This means you can travel with, live with, and even take your SA to the grocery store with you. However, if you SA causes damage or misbehaves, the owner of the establishment has the right to ask you to leave.

Emotional support animals have significantly fewer rights, as they are not protected by the ADA. They are, however, protected by the Fair Housing Act, which means you cannot be denied housing because of your ESA. Most of the time you will also be allowed to take your ESA to work with you. Currently, you are allowed to travel with your ESA, but the laws are changing, and you may soon not be able to. You are also not allowed to take your ESA into stores and restaurants and must ask permission to take your ESA to a hotel, which may not may not be granted.

As shown, service animals have a lot more rights and freedom then emotional support animals do. However, you have the right to certain accommodations with both.


In order to receive service dog registration, you must have a physical or mental disability which is documented by a doctor or psychiatrist. You must also have the need for you service dog approved by a medical professional. Then, you must train your dog to perform tasks which help you with your disability. You can hire a professional trainer or train your dog yourself.  It is also hugely important that your service animal behaves well in public no matter the circumstances. When you complete these steps, you can get receive service animal registration to ensure you can always have them by your side.

Registering an emotional support animal simply requires a letter written by a licensed therapist or medical professional. It is wise to make sure your ESA is trained well and behaves correctly in public, but it is not required.

In conclusion, SAs and ESAs may seem similar, but have several major differences concerning your rights and where you can take them by law. SAs are specifically dogs who are trained to do specific tasks to aid a disabled person, whereas ESAs can be any type of animal and do not require training. To get your service animal registration or emotional support animal letter, visit United Support Animals and let one of our friendly professionals help you.