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The Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

The Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Research shows that more than 60% of Americans own pets, and this number seems to be increasing. In all, 21% have registered emotional support animals, and fewer than 1% have service animals.

They might sound similar, but there are noteworthy differences between the three, and they can affect certain aspects of your life.

In this article, we'll discuss what sets each animal apart and what it means from a legal standpoint.

What Is a Service Animal?

A service animal is the rarest kind of companion animal. There are a few different reasons for this, although it mostly has to do with demand and training.

Service dogs serve many vital roles but they're a very specific type of accommodation. What helps one group of people may not be as helpful for another group.

The other big issue is that service animals require a lot of training. Technically, it takes four months for a dog to be trained as a guide dog, but it also needs basic obedience training. A few specific breeds of dog are chosen for this role, and fewer than half of the candidates pass.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals are far more common than service animals and don't require any special training. Their job is simply to be there for their owners and provide comfort, which most pets do anyway.

The biggest difference between an emotional support animal and a pet is that emotional support animals are recognized by the Fair Housing Act. Passed in 1968, this act prevents housing discrimination based on gender, race, religion, national origin, familial status, or disability.

The disability section of this act states that reasonable accommodations must be made to allow those with disabilities to live where they want. These days, that's interpreted to mean emotional support animals and service animals must be allowed in a rental property in most cases.

This is something to keep in mind when investing in rental property.

Rental Property, Rights, and Rules

What does all this matter, especially for landlords? It matters because many rental units have rules against pets. Others prefer to allow pets, and there are very good reasons for either pet policy.

Pet policies only apply to actual pets though, so service animals and emotional support animals must be allowed most of the time. There are exceptions.

If the animal is a threat to other residents or the property itself and no accommodation can fix this, you don't have to accept it.

Support Animals and Pets: What to Know

Whether you're dealing with support animals, service animals, or pets, it's important to understand the laws surrounding each. There are certain rights that landlords have regarding pets that they don't have with other animals.

We've discussed the role of animals in rental property here, but there's always more to know. You can learn more about real estate by reading our blog.

If you want to invest in real estate, Red Team Real Estate can help. We've been in business for more than a decade, and our team has years of experience under their belts, so we know what we're doing. Give us a call today!