Therapy dogs help but have more restrictions than service dogs - WSMV Channel 4

Therapy dogs help but have more restrictions than service dogs

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Specially trained therapy dogs are being used to treat everyone from dementia patients to wounded veterans. But, unlike service dogs, these animals are not allowed to go some places.

Service dogs are trained to help a person with disabilities do specific tasks, and therapy dogs are trained to sense emotion in people to be calm and give them loving support.

Therapy dogs have proven to help improve conditions for some dementia and Alzheimer's patients. Ida Hunter, 91, has some memory loss and meets with a therapy dog named Molly at the Donelson Place Care and Rehabilitation Center.

"I don't remember some things three or four years back. I just don't remember, but I'm OK now," Hunter said. "She'll sit by me and everything. She'll sit down and give me a paw and shake hands with me. I like that."

Molly and her handler, Ron Leonard, with Canines for Christ, stop at Donelson Place once a week, along with other facilities like Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and veterans care centers.

"With PTSD, we have seen a few patients come off their meds because the dogs have been so effective in their lives," Leonard said.

But under federal law, therapy dogs like Molly are still not allowed into certain "no dog" establishments.

Leonard said as therapy dogs become more and more common, he hopes the law will change with to allow Molly to go with her patients wherever they go.

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