What is a Therapy Dog? A therapy dog is a dog that is owned, handled & trained by the same person. They are known as a therapy dog team. A therapy dog team always works together as a team & the dog doesn't perform a task for the owner to help the owner. Therapy dog teams help other people by visiting hospitals, nursing homes, schools or other approved facilities to allow others to pet the dog, love on the dog & provide comfort to the person(s) the dog is visiting. Therapy dogs do not accompany their handler in public places unless they have been invited or approved to go to these places. They do not assist the disabled & they do not have rights by law that service dogs have under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
What is a Service Dog? A service dog is a dog that can be paired with a person with a disability after being trained through an organization or could be a dog already owned & then self-trained by said dog's owner. A service dog performs tasks to assist a person with a disability, and the person generally has the right to be accompanied by their service dog anywhere the general public is allowed. To qualify as a service dog, the task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability. It follows then that the person would need to take their dog wherever they go, just as a person might need to take a cane or walker wherever they go. Service dogs have rights by law as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). More info on Service dogs & their roles found here.