The difference between a Service Dog (SD), Therapy Dog (TD) and Emotional Support Animals (ESA) is most easily summed up as: SD have public access rights and are task trained, while TD and ESA do not have public access rights and are not task trained.
In Canada, SD and TD are recognized within the provincial and federal levels. They have organizations dedicated to their training and the services they provide to their communities. ESA are not recognized nor protected in Canada. They are essentially your well trained family pet!
SD are protected under provincial laws and have Public Access rights that allows them to assist their human handler in public so long as they are under control and have passed the Public access testing within their province.
Both will be wearing equipment that will say either THERAPY or SERVICE. Service dogs will have additional patches that will say DO NOT PET / DO NOT DISTRACT. You will also notice that service dogs will be paying close attention to their handler as that is their job.
It is always best practice to ignore a dog in a vest that you see in public to be on the safe side.
In Alberta, dogs who have passed the qualification process receive a government issued photo identification of them and their handler. If you are a business you do have the right for ask for this identification. The card should clearly state the following information:
A qualified Service Dog has the right to enter all public areas including:
Areas that they are not permitted are:
All handlers are responsible for:
There are high expectations of service dogs while they are in public.
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