Table 1

Definition of Terms for Categories of Therapeutically Used Animals

Disability-related assistance animalA broad term that encompasses all animals that are utilized with therapeutic intent for persons with a legally recognized disability.
Service animalAs defined by the ADA, a dog or miniature horse that has been individually trained to perform specific tasks that mitigate a person’s disability.
Psychiatric service animalAs defined by the ADA, a subset of service animal that has been individually trained to perform specific tasks, which do not include the provision of “emotional support,” that mitigate a person’s disability from psychiatric illness.
Emotional support animalAn animal of any species, which does not qualify as a service animal under the ADA, that a medical provider has certified can mitigate a person’s psychiatric disability through companionship rather than by any specifically trained task(s).
Therapy animalAny species of animal utilized by a trained handler, either through the animal’s presence or a guided interaction as a part of a structured animal-assisted therapy, to provide therapeutic benefit for persons with illness and suffering.
PetAn animal kept for companionship or pleasure that is not clinically certified for therapeutic use in any illness or disability and that is not afforded any special accommodations under the law.
  • ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act.