VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Recreation Therapy Service - What is a Service Dog?
What is a Service Dog?
A service dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service dogs are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA/the Rehab Act. VAPAHCS does not provide service dogs.
What is a Facility Dog?
A facility dog has been specially trained to work with professional caregivers to improve the health and well-being of those in their care. Facility dogs work in a variety of environments and organizations, including visitation programs, rehabilitation programs, and educational programs. Facility dogs are specifically selected for their soft disposition and mild temperament. They are extensively trained in obedience and working commands to be more interactive ensuring that they are manageable and enjoyable working partners.