With the growing need and use for comfort animals, there has been some confusion about whether these animals are service animals and should be given the same protections and access to different environments. While emotional needs are important, service animals tend to have a bigger role in the daily life of individuals who need them. Service dogs, such as the ones trained by the National PTSD Service Association, are specially trained to support their owners not only emotionally, but physically and mentally to ensure stability throughout the day.
Using the Right Terms
Animals used to comfort their humans are not the same as service animals. Often incorrectly referred to as Emotional Support Animals (ESAs, a type of service animal), comfort animals are meant to provide comfort to their humans while ESAs provide a service to their owners who have a disability. ESAs and service animals perform specific tasks and work functions such as guiding the visually impaired, detecting seizures or blood sugar levels, and in the case of those who suffer from PTSD, these service animals can prevent traumatic thoughts and responses to daily situations.
One important distinction is that service animals are not pets. Service animals are trained for specific tasks. Often people will deem their pets emotional support animals for comfort, but these animals are not trained to help those with disabilities. Many times, this lack of distinction causes unintentional discrimination toward those with service animals in workplaces, housing, and shopping centers.
Avoiding Unintentional Discrimination
When it comes to discriminatory or unfair practices, usually the intent is obvious. However, discrimination can be unintentional. If practices, policies, or using terminology incorrectly results in the unfair treatment of people, they are discriminatory regardless of intent. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that we do not refer to comfort animals as service animals. It’s important that we do not say our pets are ESAs in order to bring them with us into the grocery store, for example. This overload of false action can and has put restrictions on people with disabilities who actually need service animals to perform and live their lives.
Be Part of the Mission, Learn More
By visiting our website, www.NationalPTSDServiceAssociation.org you can learn more about the programs we offer, donate, or learn more about our training facility. Our organization is a social media forward company, and we can be reached via Facebook as well.
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