Wrapping up February as Dog Training Awareness month and our focus on service dogs, last post we answered some more “How” questions and for our last post we are going over some general questions that haven’t been covered. This is not meant to be legal advice, but a base for understanding service dogs and the work they do for the people they assist. This week we go over how to search for an organization, what you can do help the organizations, and are people charged for having a service animal?
- Where can you get a service dog?
There are a variety of organizations that offer service dogs all across the states, even the globe! First, a person can train their own service dog and there is not a need do go through an organization. For those that is not an option, prior to seeking a service dog the person needs to identify their needs and how the service dog can assist to complete those tasks. Will it be assisting the person to see, hear, remember, pick up, move, or anything else? Some organizations focus more on specific skill sets than others. For instance, most are able to train a dog to pick up something but not all can offer guide dogs for people that are blind or low vision.
Upon identifying those needs, search for the organizations that focus on those services needed. It will take some homework. A quick internet search can provide numerous organizations across the states, but you can also search your state or nearby area. Another way to learn where to get a service dog is talking to those that are using service dogs.
Once you have found your best fit, get in touch with them and ask about the application process to follow. Depending on an individual’s needs and their current dogs in training, you may be placed on a waitlist.
- What can you do to help people with service dogs?
There are a few ways to help. First and foremost, know that when you encounter a person in public with a service dog that the dog is working. You do not go over and pet or engage with the dog. You may ask their person if you may pet the dog and whether they say "yes" or "no", respect and follow their answer.
Many service dog training organizations rely on volunteers to assist raising and caring for the future service dogs. Litter parents, puppy raisers and breeder homes are a humungous help!
Litter parents are a giant help. These are people that take in an expecting mama to their home, then cares for her and the babies in their newborn days. This person/family helps to nourish and support the dogs through the important early newborn weeks.
Puppy raisers receive a pup when they are approximately 8 weeks old where they start the training process and help to get them to medical appointments. They will begin to teach them house manners, provide socialization experiences, and prepare them for their potential future career as a service dog.
Breeder dogs need homes too. Some orgs ask that you care for the mama or papa dog. For this scenario (and all the before mentioned raisers) you would need to live nearby, let them live with you as you provide their nutrition and exercise needs and also take them to any vet appointments or services for the org.
Financial donations are always helpful to these organizations.
- Are people charged for having a service animal?
Acquiring a service dog from an organization will likely require charges. Many organizations do their best to keep costs down to as little as possible to help more people but fees may come with applications and for acquiring the service dog. As far as actually having and using a service dog with you, typical pet fees are not to be charged. This would be most commonly applied when staying in a hotel type situation or if a person is renting or living somewhere that has community restrictions. People with service dogs should not be charged the standard cleaning or monthly pet fee either. Like typical pet fees, restrictions on weight and/or breed do not apply to service dogs either. It is considered a reasonable accommodation for the entity to amend their policy in these circumstances for the service dog. However, the person can be responsible if damage is done by their service dog beyond normal wear and the person is responsible for proper removal of animal waste.
A service dog is a tool that helps an individual live their life. Not a pet.