PAWS of CNY, Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides pet assisted wellness services. We provide people an opportunity to get their dogs and/or cats certified as therapy pets. Our volunteers go on many visits, and participate in Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal Assisted Activities (AAA). AAT visits are conducted in cooperation with a health care professional to assist in the healing or rehabilitation of an individual. During AAA visits our volunteers are a part of social activity programs, purely for the pleasure of those receiving the visits to brighten their day. Pet therapy also includes animal-assisted activities, such as comforting residents in a nursing home. Many people believe that a therapy pet is the same thing as a service pet or an emotional support pet, when actually this is not necessarily true. While all three types of pets are used to assist humans, a therapy pet differs from a service or emotional support pet in many ways.
A therapy pet is defined as a pet that is trained to provide the handler and other individuals with psychological and physiological therapy. In order for a dog or cat to be considered a therapy pet, they often must go through a certification process. These types of pets visit many institutions such as nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, and schools. However, if a place does not allow pets in their facility, then therapy pets are unable to enter. These pets can assist humans with psychological therapy by providing therapy to patients that may suffer from an emotional issue, such as comforting someone who has been through a natural disaster or any other traumatic event. For a therapy pet to provide physiological therapy, one way would be to assist a patient with their rehabilitation therapy after being admitted into a rehabilitation center.
A service pet is a type of pet that assists people who live with a disability. They are specially trained to perform tasks that their owner may have difficulty doing on their own. Even though a place may prohibit pets from entering their facility, services pets are allowed to enter. An example of a service dog would be a guide dog for a person who is blind, or a service dog that can be used to alert someone who is about to have a seizure. Unlike therapy pets, service pets are working for one individual and should not accept petting or other forms of socialization by other individuals while they are on-duty.
Emotional support pets are pets that primarily provide people with emotional support and comfort. These kinds of pets do not need any special training; they are just there to comfort their owner and give them emotional support. An example of someone who could use an emotional support pet would be someone who suffers from depression. These pets are not considered service pets by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) but are granted access to pet restricted housing and airplanes when medically prescribed.
By Kyle Andrake
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