WHAT IS A THERAPY DOG?
A Therapy Dog is a dog that is trained with its owner, as a team, to provide comfort and stress relief to others in a variety of situations.
Therapy dogs are usually the personal pets of their handlers. They work as a team with their handler to provide a variety of services to others. Therapy dog teams volunteer in settings such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes. In addition to providing emotional and social support, Therapy Dogs may also help individuals achieve physical and educational goals. For example, throwing a ball to a dog to increase mobility, or having children read aloud to a dog.
Therapy pets are most often dogs, but can be animals of other species. Therapy dogs are working dogs (dogs with jobs), but they are not Service Animals. Federal law does not legally define Therapy Dogs and they do not have any legal protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
To become a certified Therapy Dog, most organizations have evaluations the handler and dog must pass as a team. Certification typically includes insurance coverage, consistent visit and behavior guidelines, animal health assurances, and cleanliness standards.
Federal law does not have a legal definition of a Therapy Dog. Additionally, federal law does not allow Therapy Dogs in public place that have “no pets” policies. Therapy Dogs are only allowed into facilities where they have been invited, or that are open to any pet. However, state laws may allow Therapy Dogs to travel on public transportation to and from scheduled therapy visits.
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