However, these dogs are expected to exhibit proper behavior in public and perform specific tasks that will help their disabled owners. Service dogs do not need a special license nor are they required to wear a special uniform that identifies them as such. Some states offer special licenses for service dogs that satisfies the concerns of staff where pets are banned at public facilities. This is especially helpful when the disability is not visible, such as those of mental or psychiatric origin.
Although there is no requirement for a person to show medical proof of his or her condition, claiming a disability without having been diagnosed or treated by a medical professional is considered fraud. The IRS allows tax deductions for the cost of owning service dogs only if their performance qualifies as medical care. The taxpayer must also establish proof that the expense would not occur without owning the service dog. The Americans with Disabilities Act—ADA—requires that a service animal must be on a leash at all times in public places, unless a leash would interfere or prevent the service animal from performing its job. The key issue of a service animal is that they are specially trained to perform certain tasks that help an individual with a disability.
A different definition applies to an emotional support animal. Even though this animal performs a task in providing its owner comfort, it works entirely by giving affection and companionship, and has no training to perform specific tasks. The owners of these service animals suffer from symptoms of psychiatric problems such as anxiety or depression. Their symptoms are lessened by the affection and presence of their service dogs.
If an individual has documents given by a licensed psychiatrist stating that the person receives therapeutic benefits from the service animal, he or she is granted special rights under two Federal laws. For individuals who have a service animal for emotional support, the Fair Housing Amendments Act allows an exemption under the “no pets allowed” housing policy. In addition, individuals are allowed to travel with their emotional support animals and will not be charged extra fees under the Air Carrier Access Act when they have documented proof from a medical doctor.