Cancer Service Dog

by Staff

Service animals are specifically trained to help assist those with disabilities. They have an integral role in the lives of those who require their support, giving them more independence and confidence. 


If your cancer has led to a physical, mental, or sensory disability, you may be eligible for a service dog. Below, we’ll explain exactly what a service dog is, what their legal rights are, and in what ways they can assist you and improve your quality of life. 


We’ll also touch on another form of animal that can provide therapeutic relief to individuals with cancer: emotional support animals (ESA). 

What Is a Service Animal?

A service animal is a working animal that has been carefully trained to perform tasks that alleviate the symptoms of a disability. 


The tasks are always tailored to their handler’s individual needs. For example, service animals may assist individuals with deafness by alerting them to specific sounds, while they may perform tactile stimulation for those with anxiety disorders.


A service animal is protected under a variety of federal laws, and they receive the following legal protections as a result:


    • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Service animals receive public access rights under the ADA, meaning they can’t be subjected to pet policies in public spaces like cafes, shops, libraries, malls, banks, and leisure centers. Employers must also reasonably accommodate an employee’s service animal within the workplace. 
  • Fair Housing Act (FHA) A service animal has the legal right to live with their handler in rented accommodation, regardless of whether the landlord has a “no pet” rule. They’re also exempt from pet rent and breed and size restrictions. 
  • Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA): Airlines must allow service animals to fly on the plane with their handlers. They cannot charge pet fees or impose restrictions.


Certain states also grant service animals additional legal rights, with some even extending public access rights to service dogs in training. 

What Tasks Can a Cancer Service Dog Do? 

A service dog can assist you in a variety of ways, though the exact tasks they perform will ultimately depend on the disability your cancer has caused and the support you need to manage its symptoms. 


If you have a mental or emotional disability, a service dog can help by performing tasks such as:

  • Deep pressure therapy: A service dog can use their body weight to apply pressure onto their handler’s chest. This physical sensation can have a calming effect and help relieve anxiety.
  • Guide to exit: A service dog can identify when their handler is getting overwhelmed and guide them to the nearest exit of the building.
  • Crowd Control: A service dog can circle around their handler in a crowded area to prevent people from getting too close.


If you have a physical impairment, a service dog may instead help by performing tasks such as:

  • Wheelchair pulling: A service dog can pull their handler’s wheelchair, giving them the means to travel independently. 
  • Balance assistance: A service dog can position their body to provide counter-balance and help stabilize their handler if they’re unsteady on their feet.
  • Item retrieval: A service dog can retrieve items for their handler on command, such as their phone, medication, clothing, keys, or water bottle.


 If you don’t require trained tasks and simply want a companion who can provide emotional support during this difficult time, an ESA may be a better fit.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

While a service dog performs trained tasks to assist people with disabilities, an emotional support animal instead provides therapeutic support through their companionship and physical presence. 


Any animal can become classed as an emotional support animal and they don’t need to undergo training. Emotional support animals that are legally recognized are also entitled to the FHA’s housing protections. 

How Do I Get an Emotional Support Animal?

Living with cancer can be extremely overwhelming and daunting, but you don’t have to navigate this distressing time alone. An emotional support animal can offer immeasurable therapeutic relief. 

If you’re interested in getting an emotional support animal, check out US Service Animals’ emotional support animal registration form to begin the process. They will guide you through this therapy option and help you determine whether you qualify. If you don’t want to use a third-party organization to arrange things for you, you’ll need to instead arrange a meeting with a mental healthcare professional who is licensed to practice in your state.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Yes, I would like to receive emails from The Digest Online. Sign me up!

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: New Jersey Digest. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact