Service Dogs For Patriots

Service Dogs for Patriots

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Frequently Asked Questions


How do I apply?  

First, read each of the requirements below.  If you meet the requirements, send an application request email to servicedogatyour6@gmail.com


How long does service dog training take?

On average, it takes about a year to train an adult dog to become a service dog.  That includes basic obedience training on your part, prior to service dog training.  


What if I already have a dog I want to be my service dog?

Great!  On your application, please indicate you have a dog you want to train to be your service dog.   We will contact you regarding evaluation of your dog.  Most dogs need basic and intermediate obedience training, which we do not provide.  You will need to take your dog to group classes (or a private trainer if you're unable to attend group classes) for obedience training.  At your dog's evaluation, we'll provide you with a list of commands and hand signals you'll need to learn prior to starting service dog training.  


Your dog must meet these requirements:  

  • Dogs must be over 30 pounds to provide active PTSD treatment in public.
  • Dogs must be over 18 months and under 4 years at the beginning of the service dog training program (we don't train puppies - your puppy needs to complete basic obedience training and be 18 months before we start service dog training, with very few exceptions).
  • Dogs must complete basic and intermediate obedience training in a group setting such as Petsmart, or with a private trainer if the veteran cannot attend group classes.  
  • Dogs may not show any type of aggression towards people or animals. 
  • Dogs must be spayed/neutered before service dog training will begin.
  • Dogs must be current on all shots including canine influenza.


Can we have other dogs in the house? 

Yes.  However, pack dynamics can greatly influence training outcomes.   Keep in mind that choosing a dog to join an established pack can take quite a while.  **A pack constitutes two or more dogs.   


What paperwork do I get when my dog is certified?

Service dogs do not get certified.  Any certification process for service dogs is fraudulent.  Upon completion of service dog training, you and your dog will receive a certificate of training completion, based on the standards set forth by the ADA and our program.  


How much does training cost?   

There is no cost for service dog training for the veteran.  Donations and grants cover the cost of service dog training.  


Do I need a letter from my psychologist? 

No, but you need to meet the following requirements: 

  • Veterans must have a diagnosis of service-related PTSD and/or service-related anxiety with depression.
  • Veterans must be active in therapy or group or church counseling program (generally meeting every week) for a minimum of three months.
  • Veterans must attend regular meetings with psychiatrist or psychologist for PTSD treatment (generally meeting every week).

Does the VA cover my costs or training?  

No, we are not affiliated with the VA, nor any other service dog training organization or entity.

   

Where are your dogs from?  

The dogs training in our program come from a variety of sources:  Rescue groups that pull from county shelters, prison dog training programs, breeders of merit, and friends of the veteran.  Some veterans come to us with their own dog for training. 

 

Should I look for a dog on my own? 

In general, if you don’t already have a dog with whom you’ve bonded, don’t go out to get a dog.  Let us help you choose a dog who already shows propensity for service work, who meets the requirements for our program.  On your application, be sure to indicate that you request assistance finding a dog to work with.  


Where do we train?

We train in public places in and around Gainesville and Ocala.  You must meet the following requirements:  

  • Veterans must live within 50 miles of Ocala or Gainesville.
  • Veterans must provide their own transportation to training sessions.
  • Veterans must be sufficiently mobile to actively participate in weekly training sessions and be willing to train in various local public venues.

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Requirements

 

Requirements for veterans and dogs prior to enrollment in Service Dogs for Patriots training program:

  • Veterans must live within 50 miles of Ocala or Gainesville.
  • Veterans must have a diagnosis of service-related PTSD and/or service-related anxiety with depression.
  • Veterans must be discharged, retired, or within a 30 day ETS date (Expiration Term of Service). 
  • Veterans must be active in therapy or group or church counseling program (generally meeting every week) for a minimum of three months.
  • Veterans must attend regular meetings with psychiatrist or psychologist for PTSD treatment (generally meeting every week).
  • **Because service dogs are not a cure-all, each veteran should be getting PTSD therapy from a trained professional at least once per week in either a group setting or one-on-one, and should be active in two different types of PTSD treatment continuously during the first year of training.
  • Veterans must earn a minimum yearly income of $28,000.
  • No active duty military
  • Veterans cannot be currently enrolled in a drug or alcohol in-patient treatment program.
  • Veterans must have a minimum 3 months from discharge date of any in-patient treatment program.
  • Veterans must provide their own transportation to training sessions.
  • Veterans must be sufficiently mobile to actively participate in weekly training sessions and be willing to train in various local public venues. 
  • Dogs must be over 30 pounds to provide active PTSD treatment in public.
  • Service Dogs for Patriots' service dog trainers must evaluate your dog prior to starting service dog training (this is usually done once your application is approved).
  • Dogs must be over 18 months and under 4 years at the beginning of the service dog training program.
  • Dogs must complete basic and intermediate obedience training in a group class such as Petsmart, or with a private trainer if the veteran is unable to attend group classes.  Proof of completion is required.  
  • Dogs must be spayed/neutered before service dog training will begin.
  • Dogs must be current on all shots including canine influenza. 
  • Dogs may not show any type of aggression towards people or animals.   

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Application Process

 ** REVIEW THE ABOVE REQUIREMENTS AND FAQ PRIOR TO APPLYING

  1. Send an application request email to servicedogatyour6@gmail.com 
  2. Veteran Liaison Amanda Stoner will respond to your application request by the following business day.  
  3. Complete the application in its entirety and return (at this time, only  electronic copies of the application are available) 
  4. Your application will be reviewed by Veteran Liaison Amanda Stoner and Executive Director Michelle Dunlap.  
  5. You’ll receive a response regarding your application within five business days (exceptions include holidays and major events).
  6. Upon approval of your application, we’ll request a meeting with you and your family (and your dog, if applicable) with Veteran Liaison Amanda Stoner, Executive Director Michelle Dunlap, and a member of our Veteran Handler Team.  If you have a dog who meets our criteria, this meeting also serves as the evaluation of your dog’s potential for service dog training.  
  7. Following the interview, our team will conduct an After Action Review, and will respond to you within five business days.  
  8. Once you are approved to enroll in our training program, we will contact area rescue groups and prison-dog programs to introduce you to potential matches. *
    1. You and your family will be introduced to dogs who fit your lifestyle and meet our criteria for potential service dog training.*  
    2. You and your family will choose a dog to adopt from the rescue group/prison-dog program.  A home visit is required by SDP staff.*  
    3. Training will begin approximately two weeks after adoption to allow for adaptation into your home.*
  9. If your dog is approved for service dog training, we will begin training within one week of approval. A home visit is required by SDP staff.  

Our Mission

Mission Statement

Service Dog in Training Tina with Air Force Veteran Chris, Service Dog Sarge with Army Veteran Dale

Service Dogs for Patriots is the only service dog training organization in North Central Florida that pairs a former shelter dog with a veteran battling PTSD and trains them together as a team from start to finish, resulting in a fully trained PTSD Service Dog.  

Program Overview

Service Dog Artemis  and Service Dog in Training Damon help their veterans navigate the food court.

 Men and women serve for a variety of reasons, but one thing is common among them all, they all volunteered to risk their lives to save another. When they return home after their military service they feel a loneliness, a need that was met during their service, the need of a battle buddy, someone willing to lay it all on the line for them every day. Sometimes our nation’s warriors feel forgotten. It is up to our local community to come together and show them that we haven’t forgotten and that we will fight alongside them, that they are not alone

Role of Service Dog

Service Dog Sarge helps his veteran Dale navigate a big box store.

 We at Service Dogs for Patriots recognize this need and seek to help through the use of a PTSD service dog. We pair a veteran with a former shelter dog, unless a dog is already owned and is capable of providing the required service. The veteran starts receiving help from day one as he or she takes part in the training process. During military service soldiers have a mission and that unique camaraderie is built during the training required to accomplish that mission. These shelter dogs need the veterans just as the veterans need them.  They train together, forming a special bond and working toward a common goal. The dog learns the needs of the veteran and what to do to help, whether it be waking up the veteran from a bad dream or giving a warning when someone is walking up from behind. The list of what these dogs offer is extensive. They work together to save each other’s lives.