This category of animal is not defined or protected by federal law, although some states do have laws granting limited accommodation to therapy animals. The most common use of therapy pets is for the benefit of people other than its handler (who may be its owner as well), such as a dog or cat that visits hospitals to comfort the sick. Reading therapy dogs have become increasingly popular in schools and libraries to act as ‘literacy mentors’ for children, and more recently courthouse dogs provide comfort to crime victims when they testify.
Since therapy animals are not protected under the ADA, there are no federal laws requiring that they be given access to places where pets are typically not permitted. And, unlike a service animal, a therapy animal is considered a pet.