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Differences between service and therapy dogs

California law gives special privileges to people who rely on a certified service animal.

Posted: Feb 12, 2020 11:22 AM
Updated: Feb 12, 2020 11:24 AM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - California law gives special privileges to people who rely on a certified service animal. 

But these days, a lot of people are getting doctor's notes to qualify their pet as a therapy animal. 

Landon the therapy dog (left side) and Koda the service dog (right side) pictured side by side.

A service dog is trained for one person to perform a task whereas a therapy dog is for everyone. Owner of a service dog named Koda, Niculina Archer said her dog has saved her life many times.

"He gives me a reason to live, he has saved me when I feel like I still don't have a reason," Archer said.

It took Archer two years to train Koda.

Service dogs can work by their owner's side at their job if the employer agrees with it. The dog helps them with tasks, whereas a therapy dog is not trained to be by a specific handler but help more so as a volunteer.

Raley's is one of the local stores in Chico that employed Archer and Koda.

One Raleys employee said she thinks more places shouldn't discriminate on people who need service dogs.

"it's a great idea if the service animal feels a seizure is going to come on, we don't know that person and the dog knows that and senses it and the dog can jump in front of that person and that person doesn't smack his head on the cement floor." "I think places like Raley's needs to keep doing the good deed of hiring people that have service animals and allowing it."

Archer broke down the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog.

"A service dog is tasked trained for one person," Archer said. "So it could be medical or psychiatric such as PTSD or diabetes alert or seizure alert dogs. Therapy dogs are for everybody, so you know anyone can pet them, anyone can go up to them, they are there for the public's happiness."

An owner, Lynn Bishop of therapy dog Landon explained the difference on when you can touch a working dog.

"A service dog is just for one person," Bishop said. "It's not supposed to be pet by other people, it's like a dog where you're not supposed to go up to them,"

Bishop said it's opposite with a therapy dog. She said with a therapy dog you don't have to ask to pet them, like her therapy dog, Landon. She said the kids know they have permission to pet Landon.

RELATED: Student therapy dog 'Landon' is making a difference at Chico schools

Bishop stressed the fact that it's very important to not touch a service dog while it is working and to make sure you always ask the owner beforehand.

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