Close this search box.

Service Animal vs Emotional Support/Comfort Animal

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are defined as domestic dogs that are trained to provide a specific service related to the persons disability.   There are a variety of different types of service dogs including but not limited to guide dog, psychiatric service dog, seizure dog, hearing alert dog, dog that performs tasks such as pulling a wheelchair or picking up items from the floor.   A service dog must be allowed to go anywhere that the public is allowed.   There is no official, federal or state certification for a service dog.   Entities may only ask two questions:  1) is the dog needed due to a disability? (cannot ask what the disability is); and 2) what service(s) does the dog provide (cannot ask to demonstrate the service(s).   The service dog must be under the handlers control at all times.  If the dog’s behavior is disruptive, it is not house trained, etc. then it is not considered a trained service animal and may be denied admittance.   A service dog would be exempt from any “no pets policy” and/or pet fees.   The ADA does not apply to privately owned residential housing.

Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHA) which is enforced by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD), assistance animals are covered and all housing providers are subject to this law.   A service animal is a type of assistance animal under HUD’s definition.   HUD uses the same definition of service animal as the ADA.   Landlords/management companies can ask the same two questions that are permitted under the ADA.   A housing provider may only request documentation when an individual’s need for a service animal is not obvious or otherwise known.   Emotional Support/comfort animals are considered a type of assistance animal under the FHA.   Emotional support/comfort animals are not trained to provide any specific service.  They are used to provide comfort/emotional support to individuals with disabilities.   An emotional support animal would be exempt from any “no pets policy” and/or pet fees.  Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers may require documentation from a qualified medical professional that the assistance animal is needed due to a disability.    Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee.  Documentation from the internet is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.

What constitutes reliable documentation?

  • Documentation from a licensed health care professional – g., physician, optometrist, psychiatrist, psychologist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or nurse – general to the condition but specific as to the individual with a disability and the assistance or therapeutic emotional support provided by the animal.
  • Documentation from a licensed doctor that makes a relationship or connection between the disability and the need for the assistance animal must be provided. This is particularly the case where the disability is non-observable, and/or the animal provides therapeutic emotional support.


Because of the special needs that are required for a individual, Forever Husky does not provide service dogs for individuals because of the training requirements. The need for emotional support animals requires strict documentation for those that are looking for emotional support animals to adopt. We may still deny your application based on reference, vet and/or home checks. For example, some rescue animals will not do well in apartments or high rises.