Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Liberal Studies


Communication and Digital Studies

Department Chair or Program Director

Anand Rao

First Advisor

Anand Rao

Major or Concentration

Communication and Digital Studies


The role of service animals (SA) in public life is often disputed online where people show their emotion, feelings, and experiences with SAs or as an SA handler. The purpose of this study was to examine how public social media discusses service animals using the hashtag #service animal. Instagram posts regarding the hashtag #serviceanimal were studied under an inductive approach to content analysis using open coding. The results show that service animals are spoken of in a positive light in public social media posts which is contradictory to the physical public’s perception. There is great responsibility bestowed upon service animals to loyally protect and serve their handlers. Many people have trouble understanding this concept without first-hand experience. Social media can be a means of educating within and outside the service animal community on proper etiquette and manners surrounding service animals.