Types of Assistance Dogs Placed
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a Service Dog as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability." Below is a list of the types of Service Dogs (and non-service dog placements) we offer. If you are interested in applying for a service dog or a non-service dog placement, visit our "Apply for a Dog" page.
Service Dogs (Mobility)
A service dog is placed with an individual with mobility challenges. Specific disabilities will vary, but they can include Spina Bifida, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Para or Quadriplegia or may be a result of past injury. Dogs are typically trained to:
- Retrieve/carry items
- Turn on/off lights
- Open/close doors
- Push buttons on automatic doors/elevators
- Assist in removing clothing
- Pull manual wheelchair short distances (if size allows)
- Provide light bracing for balance (if size allows)
Psychiatric Service Dogs
A psychiatric service dog is placed with an individual with a significant psychiatric disability, such as panic disorder, PTSD or high-functioning autism. While one of the primary benefits of a psychiatric service dog is the emotional support a partner provides, our dogs are trained specific tasks in order to mitigate their handlers disability. Tasks depend on the specific needs of the client, but may include:
- Retrieve/carry medication
- Alert to and interrupt panic attacks
- Interrupt self mutilation/compulsive behaviors
- Provide deep pressure therapy
- Guide a dissociated handler to an exit/safe place
- Scout an empty house to search for and alert to any intruders
- Turn on lights in a dark room
Medical alert service dog
A medical alert service dog's advanced training is determined by their matched partner's disability. The dog, after being tested to have the temperament and personality associated with an ideal medical alert dog (a dog appropriate for this role is generally more reactive and takes more initiative than those placed in other service roles), will be trained to alert to changes in his handler's body chemistry, or to the presence of potential dangers in their handler's environment. Examples can include:
- Alerting a deaf handler to someone calling their name, emergency alarms or the doorbell
- Alerting a diabetic handler to high and low blood sugar events
- Alerting a handler with a severe peanut allergy to the presence of peanuts in any food or substance
A medical alert dog will also be taught how to respond in the event of an emergency. A dog trained for seizure response can remove all harmful items from the area, go and find help, or press a button to call 911.
Non-Service Dog placements
When one of our dogs does not live up to the high standards set for a Service Dog who must work in public, we hope to place him into another supportive role where he may shine. The type of job a dog will be placed into depends on the level of skill, ability to withstand stressful situations and personality and temperament of the dog. Other roles we may place a dog into include:
- Home Helpmate
A home helpmate is effectively the same as a service dog, as far as skills and tasks learned. The difference is that the dog is not suitable for public use (because of anxiety, drive or other reasons) and therefore performs all of his tasks in the home. This is ideal for a person living with a disability who does not necessarily need the dog in public, or who rarely leaves home.
- Facility Dog
A facility dog is placed with a professional who works with clients on a daily basis who would benefit from the pet-therapy a dog might provide. These can include physical therapists, teachers who work with special-needs students or therapists who believe their clients would benefit from the presence of a well-behaved, skilled dog. The primary job of these dogs is to provide a mellow, calming presence, however some of their learned tasks may be beneficial while working.
- Therapy Dog/Companion Pet
A therapy dog is a pet who is placed with someone who enjoys volunteering at local hospitals, schools or assisted living homes. These dogs need to be well-behaved and confident around new environments, and generally should enjoy meeting and socializing with a variety of people. Their foundational tasks are beneficial for meeting these people -- Other tasks provide fun “tricks”, which make interactions more fun for the people the dog is visiting.
Occasionally we will have a dog who is too high drive, anxious or introverted to suitably be placed in any of the above roles. These dogs often make wonderful pets/companions, provided their new owner understands their needs. These dogs will be placed in suitable homes on a case-by-case basis.
If interested in receiving any of the above listed types of dogs, please visit our "Apply for a Dog" page and submit the Pre-Application Form.