Date of Award


Degree Type

Creative Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Jeannie Thomas


Jeannie Thomas


Jared Colton


Alma Burgess


One of the most arguable issues in our society, and within the field of modern disability policy and law is the epidemic surrounding the use of service animals. With several cases for and against the use of service animals in public entities, there is constant discussion of what is a legitimate service animal and who is able to utilize them. In this thesis, I establish the definition of disability and discuss the laws and policies that legitimized the use of service animals within the public sphere. Specifically, this work will draw upon genres such as policies and laws of disability, and academic research, relating to disability and service animal rights. Drawing upon these different sources, I attempt to discover what defines a legitimate service animal, emotional support animals (ESAs), and therapy animals. I also explore why ESAs and fraudulent service animals are used. By understanding the definition of service animals, ESAs, therapy animals in contrast to those that seek to pass off common pets as service animals, we can better understand the policies that protect the rights and privileges of these animals. This thesis will close with situations wherein the circumstances are not clear and provide suggestions on what to do in those circumstances.