Comfort Animals are a growing trend on college campuses today. A comfort animal is NOT a service animal, but is more than just a pet. A comfort animal can be any species and provides comfort to a person by its mere presence; it has not been trained to perform any special function. In contrast, a service animal has to be a dog (or a miniature horse) and has been trained to perform a specific function related to the person’s disability. For example, a dog which has been trained to help a vision impaired person navigate his/her environment would be a service animal. If an anxious person is calmed by petting a cat, the cat likely could serve as a comfort animal. Another distinction between a service and comfort animal is where the animal can go. A comfort animal is limited to the person’s living space while a service animal can go anywhere the person is allowed to go. A service animal can go to class, the dining hall, the library, and even to the hospital while the comfort animal cannot.
--- Dr. Noles has over 20 years experience in the area of disability accommodations for college students. He wrote the first accepted recommendation for a comfort animal at the University of Richmond. He is well-acquainted with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws which regulate this field. He is a member of the Association for High Education and Disability and serves as the Learning Disability Consultant to various colleges.
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Steven W. Noles, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist & Certified Sports Psychologist