Hope for Disabilities

Fulfilling unmet needs in the disability community

Psychiatric service animal

Psychiatric service animal

A psychiatric service animal more closely resembles a traditional service animal and refers to animals trained to assist people who are disabled as a result of mental illness. Animals trained for this purpose often provide life-saving tasks, such as preventing disoriented people from dangerous situations, bracing a handler who is physically unstable from medication or rousing a handler who – as a function of being medicated – might sleep through a fire or burglar alarm. Many tasks performed by psychiatric service dogs are similar to those performed by mobility dogs – a type of service animal – the only difference is that these animals work for someone with a psychiatric versus a physical disability.

Psychiatric service animals are often confused with ESAs, but a dog or cat that provides emotional comfort to someone who is not disabled as a result of their mental condition does not qualify as a service animal of any kind.