Eau Claire (WQOW)- A service dog and an emotional support pet are terms used interchangeably, but there's a big difference between the two.
Crystal Louden, a vet technician at the Eau Claire Humane Association said any animal can be an emotional support pet, if the animal is prescribed by the doctor.
Louden said an online certificate stating your dog is an emotional support pet is considered fraudulent.
She said an emotional support pet is not allowed in public places like a restaurant or a store, but a service dog is.
"A service animal is an animal that's specifically trained for one handler, to do tasks that they cannot do for themselves. So, it could be a guide animal for people that have vision impairment. It could be for people with hearing impairment to help them be alerted to different things," Louden said.
Louden said to become a service dog it must go through hours of training, and can cost up to $25,000 which is why most dogs don't make it through the program.
She said any dog has the ability to be a service dog, but you should choose a dog based on your needs - so if you need one to help you get up, you may want a bigger dog.
She said if you see a service dog you should avoid it, and treat it like another person because if the dog is distracted from its job, it could be life threatening for the owner.