Service animal and emotional support animal aren’t same thing, expert says

A Xenia woman who said she and her dog were asked to leave an area Burger King this week has raised the issue of explaining what distinguishes a service animal from an emotional support animal.

The woman, Ashley Fouse, who said she suffers from depression, anxiety and PTSD, said Luke is a service dog.

But the note she showed News Center 7's Molly Koweek lists the pooch as an emotional support animal.

Karen Shirk, CEO and founder of 4 Paws for Ability Inc., explained a service dog is task-trained to mitigate disabilities, so the dog has to be able to know how to do something. An example would be opening a door.

Emotional support animals, Shirk explained, are not task-trained. Their purpose is to provide emotional support, comfort, decrease anxiety and make a person feel happier if they're depressed.

Shirk said emotional support dogs are allowed aboard airplanes and in certain housing situations, but they do not have the same protections as service dogs.

"An emotional support animal has no rights in public,” she said. “They have no right to be in Burger King or anywhere else."

Officials with Burger King have not responded to Koweek's request for comment.

Service dogs do come with certain protections under federal law — no certification is needed, they are not required to wear a vest and owners are not required to carry paperwork.

Shirk said, "any place that you're allowed to be, they're allowed to be unless it's a detriment to that business."

The Americans With Disabilities Act wanted to make the least amount of problems for a person with a disability, Shirk said. Some people abused the lack regulations, so some businesses began imposing more restrictive measures to blunt rules designed to help people with disabilities.

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