Have you ever wondered how a person can get a service dog?
Getting A Service Dog Starts With A Medical Diagnosis
Yes, you read that right! The whole process of getting a service dog starts with being medically diagnosed.
A doctor or qualified medical professional must issue a diagnosis that you have a disability. A recommendation by the doctor that getting a service dog will help manage such disability must be included in the diagnosis.
The doctor’s diagnosis must also specify the specific tasks the dog is required to be an expert in.
What Must You Be Diagnosed With?
A person may avail of the company of a service dog if they have a physical, emotional, or mental disability.
Generally, a person qualifies if he suffers from a physical disability that restricts mobility, autism, anxiety disorder, or neurological disorder that affects at least one limb.
A person who applies for a service dog must reside in a secure home environment. He must be physically and mentally competent to take part in the training process and must be independent enough to give commands and handle the dog.
Finally, he must be physically, mentally, and financially capable of meeting the needs of a service dog and must have no other dogs at home.
Before going further into the other details, let us first understand what a service dog is.
What Is A Service Dog?
As defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “a service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.”
Some of these work or tasks service dogs perform are guiding those who are blind or visually impaired and alerting those with hearing problems and the deaf.
They also pick up objects for those who have limited use of their hands and arms, pulling and pushing things as needed, and doing other stuff for and assisting those with limited mobility.
Some remind people of essential schedules like the intake of medicines and notifying a person of the presence of some threat or danger.
The Process Of Getting A Service Dog
Once you have all the qualifications, the process of getting one is a long ride. You have two options at the start.
First, you get a dog from a professional service dog training organization that trains the dog for you.
And second, you could train a dog yourself!
Getting A Service Dog From An Organization
You can get assistance on availing a service dog from an organization dealing with them. Generally, these organizations require you to submit your application with your medical diagnosis. They review your request and check whether they have a trained dog that can efficiently satisfy your needs.
As mentioned above, the medical diagnosis requires a statement of what specific tasks the dog is required to do. This is important for these organizations to determine the compatibility of their dog to your needs.
Once the organization identifies the dog, it will work with you in creating a bond between you and the dog. They will also assess your capability of handling the dog as well as the dog’s responsiveness to performing the necessary tasks.
If the organization does not have a dog trained specially for you, they may train another dog to do it.
Depending on the training a dog has and your needs, it is easier to avail of your dog through this process.
On an individual basis, this option might take less time than training a dog yourself. However, this is costly as training a dog required these organizations to spend some of their resources too.
Here are some organizations which provide service dogs:
Little Angels Service Dogs have facilities in California and New Hampshire.
Freedom Service Dogs is based in Colorado but is accepting applicants from out of state as long as they qualify.
Paws With A Cause Headquarters is in Michigan and has a network of Field Reps committed to providing services in dozens of states.
Canine Partners for Life has its facility in Cochranville, PA, and accepts video interviews for those applicants living more than 250 miles from the facility subject to some conditions.
Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs has its headquarters in Florida.
Train A Dog Yourself
Generally, it takes years to train a service dog. The breed, age, and experiences of a dog may affect its trainability. Hence, it is good to choose the right dog to train depending on your needs.
To be easily trainable, a prospective dog to be trained must show calmness even in a new environment. The dog must be alert but has a low energy level. He must be obedient, intelligent, and remembers things. Therefore, an easily trainable dog breed would generally be perfect as a service dog.
Though this is less costly than the first option, this might be too consuming and might take a year or two.