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4912 Skyway Drive, Manhattan, KS 66502


Assistance Dogs

The need for an assistance dog varies as much as a dog’s personality is different from another. No two dogs are alike and neither are two individual’s disability. We get many requests asking for us to give a price over the phone. While we’d love to do this, it’s nearly impossible without meeting with you and discussing your needs and meeting your dog to see if it could qualify as an assistance dog.

There are four types of assistance dogs that we train:

With public access rights:
  • SERVICE DOGS are defined by Title II and Title III of the ADA as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. These dogs are trained for 1-1/2 to 2 years, have public access and function as medical equipment for their handler.
With no public access rights:
  • THERAPY DOGS are trained to provide affection, comfort and love to a wide variety of people. Generally, these dogs are accompanied by their owner/handler to visit hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, libraries, hospices and disaster areas. Therapy dogs are not covered or protected under the Federal Housing Act or Americans with Disabilities act. They also do not have public access rights with the exception of being granted permission to visit the individual facilities they are working in.
  • EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS (ESA) provide a therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship. ESAs are PETS prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness such as depression or anxiety. A psychologist, or psychiatrist decides that the presence of a dog is needed for the mental health of the patient. These dogs ARE NOT SERVICE DOGS and have no public access rights. ESA’s are only allowed to be in locations that pet dogs are allowed. Two legal acts give special rights to ESAs over regular pet dogs. The Air Carrier Access Act protects the ESA’s right to air travel in the cabin of an aircraft and NOT be charged a pet fee. The Fair Housing Amendments Act requires landlords to make a reasonable accommodation to allow a disabled tenant to keep a service or emotional support animal in rental property.
  • IN-HOME COMPANION ASSISTANCE DOGS are a mixture between a service dog and an emotional support dog (ESA). These dogs have been trained to perform tasks to assist an individual with a disability, but they do their work only in the home. They are not granted public access rights and can’t go places that pet dogs are not allowed to go.


Getting an assistance dog trained for you can be a long confusing road. Start by scheduling an evaluation with one of our service dog trainers. We will meet with you to go over your needs and help decide which type of assistance dog best fits your requirements. We require that, before you schedule this appointment, you have a doctor's letter recommending that a service dog will help mitigate your disability.


Service Dog


Service dogs are selected, trained and tested to perform specific tasks that mitigate a person’s disability. Service dogs are working animals. They are not pets. A service dog increases a person’s independence, safety, and improves the quality of life for people with disabilities.

A well-trained service dog can help people with:

  • mobility issues such as arthritis, spinal injuries, MS, parkinson’s disease or stroke
  • medical problems such as seizures, chronic vertigo and diabetes
  • patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression who have task specific needs.

To be eligible for a service dog, you must have a qualifying disability with a written recommendation for a service dog by your treating physician or mental health professional. 

Kansas Service Dog Accommodation Laws:

  • Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public are required to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed. Below are additional laws by the State of Kansas:39-1108. Use of service dog by person with disability.
    “Every person with a disability shall have the right to be accompanied by a service dog, specially selected, trained and tested for the purpose which shall include, but not be limited to, pulling a wheelchair, opening doors and picking up objects, in or upon any of the places listed in K.S.A. 39-1101, and amendments thereto, in the acquisition and use of rental, residential housing and in the purchase and use of residential housing without being required to pay an extra charge for the service dog. Such person shall be liable for any damage done to the premises by such dog.”39-1109. Use of assistance dog while training.
    “Any professional trainer, from a recognized training center, of an assistance dog, while engaged in the training of such dog, shall have the right to be accompanied by such dog in or upon any of the places listed in K.S.A. 39-1101, and amendments thereto, without being required to pay an extra charge for such dog. Such trainer shall be liable for any damage done to the premises of facilities by such dog.”39-1113. Assistance dogs and professional therapy dogs; definitions.
    The presence of a dog for comfort, protection or personal defense does not qualify a dog as being trained to mitigate an individual’s disability and therefor does not qualify the dog as an assistance dog covered under the provisions of this act.

Therapy Dog

A therapy dog provides affection and comfort to people in facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living, hospice, shelters, schools, libraries, and physical therapy centers. Through the unique animal-to-human bond, visitation from a therapy dog can brighten a person’s day, lift spirits, reduce anxiety or stress and help motivate people through treatments. A therapy dog visiting a facility is always accompanied by their handler. Therefore, our therapy dog program is as much for the handler to learn proper handling etiquette as it is for the dog to learn manners.  

A Therapy Dog must:
• have a calm and even-tempered disposition.
• have no history of aggression or reactivity towards people or animals
• be well socialized (exposed to many environments, people and other dogs)
• have basic obedience training  (prerequisite to taking the Therapy Dog class is completing MuttSchool’s Foundations class)
• like to be petted, hugged and touched by strangers
• must love to cheer others up!

Therapy dogs are not to be confused with service dogs or emotional support dogs.  Service dogs are trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities and are considered working animals, not pets. Emotional Support Dogs are prescribed by licensed mental health professionals to provide therapeutic support to persons with mental illnesses.


Emotional Support Animal (ESA dog)

An emotional support dog is prescribed by licensed mental health professionals to provide therapeutic support to persons with mental illnesses. The dog is not required to perform any specific tasks for a disability like a service dog. ESA dogs are meant solely to provide comfort to it’s owner, offer emotional stability and unconditional love. They can assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, fear/phobias, and other psychological and emotional conditions.They are not permitted access into public places any more than other pets.

Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), an individual who meets the proper criteria may have an emotional support dog to accompany them. The FHAA protects individuals by allowing their emotional support dog to live with them (even when there are no pet policies in place). The ACAA protects individuals by allowing the emotional support dog to fly with them in the cabin of an airplane (usually without having to pay additional fees). Any dog can be an emotional support dog as long as the owner has a letter from a licensed mental health professional prescribing an ESA dog.

An ESA dog should:

  • have basic manners (no jumping, stealing food, barking, etc.
  • know basic obedience (can walk on a leash, sit, down, stay, etc.
  • be friendly and enjoy human touch and interaction

We highly suggest that ESA dogs complete Grades 1, 2 and 3 and earn the AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate.


In-Home Companion Assistance Dog (No Public Access)

An in-home companion assistance dog offers their human partner comfort and  companionship like an ESA but is trained to perform tasks that are useful to their partner in the home environment. These dogs can be trained to do many of the same tasks that a Service Dog can do. However, their work is done only in the home and they are NOT trained for public access like a service dog.

The requirements for training an in-home companion assistance dog differ greatly depending on the tasks the dog needs to perform. If you are interested in an in-home companion assistance dog, we would recommend that you set up a consultation with one of our certified instructors to discuss training, and your level of participation.

If you have a dog already and you think it has the potential to become an in-home companion assistance dog, one of our certified instructors would be happy to assess the dog’s potential. Not every dog has the qualities to handle the tasks required. We would also be happy to help match you with the right dog for the tasks


MuttSchool-KS serves towns in northeastern Kansas along the I-70 corridor, including Manhattan, Junction City, Ft. Riley, St. Marys, Wamego, Silver Lake, Topeka, Abilene, and Salina. Travel fees may apply.