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Service or Support Animals? Training is Key for Helping Disabled Floridians

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Pet owners are increasingly signing up to have their animals certified as “comfort” "therapy" or "emotional support" animals. The certification can be helpful for some conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety, but significant differences separate comfort dogs from medical assistance dogs, including training, certification, and where they are legally allowed to go under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Monday at 1 p.m. on Gulf Coast Live, Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs CEO Carol Borden explains the intensive training required of guide dogs and attempts to clear up some of the misunderstandings regarding comfort animals. 

Rebecca Williams with the Southeast ADA Center also joins the program to discuss the difference in these dogs and how the ADA laws impact accessibility for service animals versus comfort animals. 

And Mary Ann Gringnon, president of the Southwest Florida Council of the Blind, joins the program to explain  how important making these distinctions are for people who depend on these animals to function day to day.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.