It has been my experience throughout the years when having a discussion about therapy dog teams that often people are confused on the deference between a therapy dog and a service dog. Below I have explained that difference.
Dog Therapy Teams: These teams are very skilled and have qualified after testing with an organization such as Pet Partners. The team once qualified are insured through that organization so they can visit hospitals, libraries, hospice care facilities, child crisis’s center, veterans, etc. Therapy dogs do not have the same privileges as service dogs for instance, they cannot go into restaurants, fly in the cab of a plane unless they fit in a carrier under a seat, go into public buildings unless for a visit. The purpose of a therapy dog is to bring joy to the person they are visiting giving that person some comfort when they may be in a stressful situation. Such as visiting a person in a hospital, going to a school library and having a child read to the therapy dog it helps that child relax and read better, or visiting a hospice care unit and bring some comfort to the families in need.
Service Dogs: The service dog helps a particular person with a service they may need help with. For instance a blind person, a hearing impaired person, someone in a wheel chair or a person who has seizures just to name a few impairments that qualify a person for a service dog. These dogs are usually in training for about 2 years and have to learn particular skills before they are assigned to a special needs person. Guide Dogs for the Blind and Canine Companion for Independent Living are 2 nonprofit organizations that provide these dogs. Once a person qualifies for a dog they go to the campus to live for about a month to learn how to work with that dog and to see if they are a match. Best part of getting a dog from one of these organizations, there is no cost to the person in need.