“For those of you who do not know, John is my grandson. We all have taken our friends and families for granted at some time or another. Pause a moment and think where you would be today without that special friend that has been by your side over the years. As we go through our busy life we seldom get a chance to see the impact of our generosity. Here is a chance to give someone their own special friend. Please help this young man have a companion that will stick by his side. Give what you can, even if it is just a prayer that John will have a companion that will be happy to see him and give him his unconditional love. Thank you, and God Bless.”
Here is the text from the Go Fund me campaign:
Therapy Dog for our Autistic Son
John is our 14 year old Autistic son with a Cognitive disability. Although he is currently 14 years old he has a mentality of a 3 year old. When John was 4 years old he was diagnosed with Autism. John is a very happy boy who only sees joy in the world. The one thing he has always struggled with is friends. John has always been too shy to play with others and will sit in the background and watch everyone else. The one thing that has always been a joy in his life is animals. John has a natural love for dogs. More than anything we would love to provide John with a Therapy dog. A companion and friend forever just for him. As a parent of an Autistic child we would like nothing more than to see John enjoy life and have a forever friend. This Therapy dog will not judge John for who he is and our hope is John will no longer sit in the background watching others as he will be out there enjoying life as a young man. We have researched Labradoodles and the benefits of having a Therapy dog for John for over a year now. We have visited a company by the name of Larry’s Labradoodles out of Anywhere, USA. and found this is the place we would like to provide John with his Therapy dog. Our family would be forever grateful for any support you can provide in helping us with a Therapy dog for John.
If this showed up on your page what would you do? It was cross posted by someone you know. Would you help? Or would you see the problem? To see the red flag that I do you need to know the difference between a service dog, a therapy dog and an emotional support animal.
I can hear you now, “Aren’t they all the same?” NO! Differentiating between, service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support animals is not a matter of splitting hairs or political correctness. Each of these dogs has a very different job from the others and the terms are not interchangeable.
Here are the differences in a nutshell:
Service Dog: These dogs are individually trained to perform tasks and do work that mitigate their handlers’ disabilities. (They work with their owner). They help them function in daily life. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of people with disabilities to be accompanied by their service dogs in public places.
Therapy Dogs: Their responsibilities are to provide psychological or physiological therapy to individuals other than their handlers. (They work for other people). Often you see them with groups of people like nursing homes, hospitals, etc. The owners of therapy dogs do not have the same rights to be accompanied by these dogs in places where pets are not permitted.
Emotional Support Animal: Emotional Support Animals are not required to undergo specialized training. Their primary roles are to provide their disabled owners with emotional comfort. Unlike with service dogs, service dog laws do not allow emotional support animals (ESAs) to go out in public to places dogs are normally prohibited. ESA owners do have certain legal rights in housing situations and when flying, though ESAs are supposed to be public access trained for flight access.
So, now that you know the difference let’s go back and look at the fundraising campaign.
The person is asking for money to get a ‘therapy’ dog for her son. But, a therapy dog works for groups of people. So, what she really wants is either a service dog or an emotional support animal for her son. If she wants an ESA she doesn’t need $7,000 to get a pet. If she wants a service dog her fundraising goal is accurate. BUT, the fact that she is not requesting a service dog but rather a therapy dog makes me wonder if SHE knows what her son needs. She wants her son to “have a forever friend”. That sounds like an ESA to me. If she wanted a service dog it should sound something more like this. “John would benefit from a service dog because the dog would provide physical safety for him and be an emotional anchor. He could be tethered to the dog to prevent wandering away which would provide the whole family with added security”. If the breeder is selling her a “therapy dog” or ESA at a service dog rate then she is getting duped.
Do you see the difference? Once you understand the classifications it’s easy to see that something doesn’t quite add up. So why do I care? Am I just a heartless person who doesn’t want this boy to get a dog? No. I don’t doubt that a dog would help this boy and I DO hope he gets a companion. For me, personally, I take issue with the manipulation they are using. They are tugging on your heartstrings to raise a very large sum of money. If they need help getting a dog for their son be honest about it and say, “dang, money is tight and we really want to get a dog for our son”. Instead they are playing the victim to make you feel guilty. I mean, who doesn’t want to help a child with autism? Aren’t you a terrible person if you can’t help us with even a small donation?
Why and I telling you all this? Because knowledge is power. If you know the difference between service, therapy and ESA dogs you are able to critically asses the request and respond accordingly. Now you can donate with confidence that what you are supporting is the real deal.