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Types of Service/Assistance Animals

Updated on July 13, 2013

For centuries animals have been known to be paired with humans for lots of reasons. In cases of hunting, dogs have been around to aid in the catch of food and cats for ridding pests. For work, mules and horses have been known to work hard to till the fields, carry grain and help pull well water. Well these days things are no different except animals are being put in another form of use. Providing people with support and helping them with their physical needs are now their realm of labor. Here below is a list of animals that are used for therapy, emotional support and aiding with disabilities.

Different Types of Animals

Therapy Animals- These animals aid those with hindered physical abilities due to stroke or arthritis; helping them attempt physical movement.

Emotional Support Animals- These animals provide assistance to those that are emotionally inept. Often these animals provide a comfort bringing happiness and balancing moods.

Service/Assistance Animals- Service animals that help those with the inability to do day to day functions due to their disabilities.


Better known as man’s best friend. Dogs are being used as service animals providing those with physical disabilities such as blindness and those in wheelchairs. They can help guide them, pick up dropped items and alerting owners of alarms or doorbells. Most dogs that are extensively trained for this come from shelters; giving them a purpose and second chance in life.


Capuchin Monkeys

Capuchins are used to help those that are unable to perform tasks that are simple for most such as grabbing items, turning doorknobs, turning lights on and off, turning pages of books and even paying bus fare. Monkeys are a good fit for most disabilities because they are able to use their hands similar to the way we do. Other things monkeys serve a purpose for are to wash faces, microwaving food and opening bottles. They aren’t just good for being an assistant animal, they also make good emotional support service animals providing support for those with agoraphobia.

Miniature Horses

Horses have been given a purpose as a substitute for dogs in leading the blind. There may be those that are allergic to dogs that require the use of a horse. Even religious reasons have been why dogs have been given the back seat when it comes to leading the blind. Some religions feel that dogs are unclean. Horses are also used for pulling wheelchairs and giving support to those with disabilities such as Parkinson’s.


Cats can be given the responsibility as aid for the hearing impaired or as seizure-alert animals. They are also used to provide emotional aid, lowering anxiety attacks of those with mental disabilities.

Pot-Bellied Pigs

These little snouted animals are just more than a pretty face. They provide emotional support as well as a service alert animal. If a person finds themselves in an emergent situation the pig is able to let off a squeal to alert those around that help is needed. Pigs are also a great alternative for a dog.


Dolphins help others on a number of levels. They are most known for helping children with physical disabilities and afflicted with cerebal palsy, autism and down-syndrome. They have been attributed to stimulate brain waves in fetuses and helping with health issues because of their ultrasonic wave emissions.

Other Animals

Ducks, birds, iguanas, llamas and goats are other animals that have provided a comfort and service by helping those with emotional problems. Touching these animals provide a sensation to those that have mood disorders, dementia or autism causing a boost in their mood. This is why you also see such animals in nursing homes as well. Touching and petting dogs, cats and guinea pigs can help decrease loneliness and hopelessness.

When patients with physical disabilities are able to reach out to pet an animal or even notice that they are able to move in the slightest of manners it is a big accomplishment in exercising physical therapy. Animals have been really useful in helping with mobility skills. This is helpful for stroke victims and those with multiple sclerosis.

Controversy has surrounded the topic of what should be deemed as a service animal. Dogs and horses are what the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) deems as a true service animal. Anything else is said to be an emotional support animal, a physical therapy animal or a service assistance animal. Reason being is that lots of people were starting to take advantage of giving their animal rather it be a snake, rabbit or turtle, the name of service animal. Opening up questions as to if their animals were truly service animals or just pets that they want to carry with them everywhere. No matter what the ADA calls a service animal, it is apparent that animals no matter dog or guinea pig are helping people mentally cope on a daily basis, improve their physical abilities and making daily tasks easier. Overall, helping increase the quality of one’s life.

How Many of You Looked at This Dolphin and Your Mood Improved?

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    • NiaG profile image

      NiaG 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Well thanks so much bilgin! Glad I could bring a smile to your face. I think it's cool animals can even be trained to do such things. They are after all smart so why not. You have yourself a good day. Thanks for your comment.

    • bilgin profile image

      Burak Bilgin 4 years ago from Genk, Belgium

      This hub is not only well-organized and well-written, it also made me warm and fuzzy inside and put a smile on my face. I like the story of the Capuchin Monkeys the most. Thank you for this hub.