I have wondered about this for some time now. I have heard so much…incorrect information about Therapy Dogs and their certification. It is even more confusing as there are so many supposed therapy dog training organizations out there and the laws governing them are different in each state. I decided to get the skinny and be done with it. I suspected money was involved somewhere particularly since there does not seem to be a medical billing code for therapy dogs.
This next part will make me some enemies or rather it would if anyone actually read my blog. I think I’m safe. There really is no such thing as a therapy dog. This whole thing with dogs has legitimacy only because of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This federal law says that if you have a “service dog” you and your dog may not be denied access. So what is a service dog? Well that does not seem to be as important as how to get one and the only legal way to get one is with a prescription. If your problem is all in your head then you can get a prescription for that too from your shrink and you can call him an “emotional comfort dog”, not a therapy dog.
There is even a law about what happens if you claim to have a service dog and she is not. I imagine this is more about whether you have a legal script rather than the qualifications of the dog.
So then what does it mean when you see these “therapy dogs” walking around with their vest and patches attesting to their kind intentions? It simply means that someone has spent time working with the dog and allows others to enjoy their company, probably for tips and treats. If they are lucky they have found a nursing home or maybe even a hospital that will allow them to visit. But I have to ask myself why? I can’t imagine tips coming close to paying for the insurance.