Letter: Service vs. ‘therapy’ dogs | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Service vs. ‘therapy’ dogs

There is a huge difference between a service dog and a companion/therapy/emotional support dog.

Defined via https://disabilitylawco.org/issues/category/service-assistance-animals: “Service Animal – This is defined by federal and Colorado law as a dog (or miniature horse) that has been individually trained to perform a specific task or service for a person with a disability. A service animal is considered an extension of a person with a disability and is allowed in any place that is open to the public. A service dog can only be excluded from a business or public place if it is acting aggressively or causing a nuisance.”

In comparison a companion/therapy/emotional support dog or animal is defined via the same source as such: “Companion and assistance animals are a product of federal and state laws regarding housing and are defined as animals that help a person with a disability alleviate one or more symptoms of their disability while in their home. This can include a dog that barks when the doorbell rings to assist a person who has a hearing impairment or a cat that provides a person with bipolar disorder a reason to get up in the morning, take her medicine and go to work. Only people with disabilities are entitled to have companion animals and even then, companion animals are only allowed in a person’s home. Business owners and other places of public accommodation are not required to allow companion or assistance animals into their businesses.”

Colorado passed an ordinance in 2017 under which a person may be fined for misrepresenting an animal. Please, unless your dog is truly a service dog, leave them at home. Bringing a “therapy animal” into a business under the guise of a service animal is not only illegal and immoral but may in fact put the business in danger. Please be an adult and respect the policies of an establishment and state law.

Chris Gundelfinger
Glenwood Springs

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