Therapy Dog or Assistance Dog

We wouldn’t deprive someone without the use of their legs of a wheelchair in public places so why then do we tolerate that many people with mental health conditions are imprisoned in their homes’ because having a dog walk along by their side as an aid to removing the anxiety, fear and panic felt of what is outside the home, by giving the person the confidence that people won’t get too close to tolerate nor will the person be the focus of attention in social encounters, the dog will, and knowing that they have a plausible reason to remove themselves should something prove too unbearable is classified as a Therapy Dog, with the same restrictions in public spaces as pet dogs, not an assistance dog, permitted in public places?

How is the former so different to the medical detection, guide or hearing dogs, so they get official registration as assistance dogs, while the mental health dog that does not perform a visually obvious physical task cannot get official registration as an assistance dog?

I am not saying that all people with mental health conditions should be allowed a mental health assistance dog nor am I condoning people passing off their pet dog as such an assistant dog but rather that some people with mental health conditions could regain independence and become active members of society again by having highly trained dogs that have been through a quality training programme that teaches the dogs good self-control, basic obedience and appropriate public etiquette, in accordance to the high standard laid down by the Assistance Dog EU and the International Association of Assistance dogs, which is non-negotiable.

what do you have to say about this?



  1. chebandbecky said,

    April 27, 2013 at 4:28 am

    In Canada, there is no distinction. 🙂

    • gaeliccraic said,

      May 1, 2013 at 11:31 pm

      I so hoped you were correct in stating that there is no distinction between Therapy Dog and Assistance Dog in Canada but what we here in the uk call therapy Dogs is termed Companion Dog in Canada and while both are highly trained neither are allowed public access to places pet dogs are not allowed access unlike the accredited and registered Assistance Dog

      • chebandbecky said,

        May 2, 2013 at 12:53 am

        I’m not quite sure where you found the information? I cannot find anything stating that. My cousin had a non-registered dog to help her as she was hearing impaired. The dog went everywhere with her. There may be differences between provinces, but generally we follow ADA regulations. If there is a law, perhaps it is not enforced?

      • gaeliccraic said,

        May 19, 2013 at 12:00 am

        the information is on the Assistance Dogs International website and I have also been in contact with several service dog training organisations in Canada. so as you say at the law must not be well enforced where your cousin lives but should anyone challenge your cousin and seek the dog’s official registration papers they could be charged for breaking the law, but how likely they would be to go any further than cautioning them, I don’t know as that is likely to be different in different regions and countries.

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