What is a Service Dog?
A service dog is defined as a dog that has been trained to perform tasks to assist an individual with disabilities. It is the ability to perform observable tasks, on command, that distinguishes a service dog from an emotional support dog, therapy dog or other working dogs. Some examples of tasks are balance and support, retrieving dropped objects, fetching medications and summoning assistance when needed.
Do you train and/or certify Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)?
No. ESAs are pets, and under ADA law they do not qualify as service dogs. If you require a note stating that your dog is an ESA you will need to approach your treating physician.
Service Dogs Improve Quality of Life
If you were wounded in the line of duty, we understand that your disabilities live on long after the media attention and outpouring of public support. For those of you who have struggled silently with congenital or acquired disabilities, it may seem that the dream of obtaining a service dog is out of your grasp. Most benefits to which you may be entitled DO NOT cover service dog costs, and the initial costs to obtain a highly trained service dog can be prohibitive. A service dog increases independence and safety, and can dramatically improve your quality of life. The FSDS has good news for you- if you have served your community, help is now available.
The FSDS trains service dogs for individuals with mobility challenges, medical needs and PTSD. We also train facility dogs.
Will I Qualify for a Service Dog?
Any person who has a qualifying disability, verified by their treating physician, may be eligible. You need not be wheelchair bound; a well trained dog with a balance and support harness can help keep patients mobilized. Examples of people who may benefit include individuals with mobility issues such as arthritis, spinal injuries and a range of neurologic problems including autoimmune disease, MS and stroke; those with medical problems such as seizures and diabetes; and patients with post-traumatic stress disorder who have task specific needs.
What are the advantages of the FSDS training program?
If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or are dealing with chronic pain and the effects that multiple medications have on memory and concentration, learning new materials will present a challenge for you. The FSDS program caters to disabled military veterans and others with special needs. Our comprehensive training program includes providing all service dog recipients with:
- Scholarships: we completely fund the cost of a dog for those with a record of having served their communities. Depending on the availability of funding, we may also provide partial (50%) scholarships to defray the costs for other qualified applicants.
- All dogs placed have already been tested to ensure they do not have evidence of hip dysplasia or parasites
- An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to accommodate your disabilities and learning needs.
- Assignment to a Distance Educator, who will work with you to assist you in completing all didactic lessons online, from the comfort of your home, on your schedule.
- Assignment to a student mentor, who is raising the dog you will receive and can work with you on public access issues.
- Advanced service skill training is individualized to meet your special needs (the dogs are not generically trained and matched at the conclusion of the process).
- A canine first aid and CPR certification class
- All necessary working equipment, including vest, booties, harness (if needed), collar and leash
- Coaching for certification exams
- Follow-up services and assistance for the working life of your dog