What Makes a Great Organization
As we became aware of the incredibly large numbers of Veterans with PTSD and TBI that could benefit from service dogs, we began researching service dog organizations. We discovered a wide range of organizations.
Breeder Dogs Vs. Rescue Dogs We knew it didn’t make sense to approach organizations that used only breeder dogs and were required to raise tens of thousands of dollars to cover the cost of acquiring and training each dog. After our experience meeting the rescued therapy dogs from our first two calendars, we knew beautiful, smart dogs with great temperaments were readily available, just waiting to be selected and screened from the world of rescue. We knew organizations that used rescued dogs were the ones we preferred to focus on in our search.
Training – Many organizations we could NOT support, did not take the time to match the Veteran and dog before training began. Some offered completely “trained” dogs and merely transferred the leash and dog to the Veteran with no training. Others offered “trained” dogs and allowed the Veteran inadequate training periods lasting only several days to several weeks.
Thorough Training Periods. The organizations we chose, carefully matched the Veteran and dog first and trained them together. They also offer longer training periods of six to twelve months. Veterans with PTSD and TBI require programs that offer responsible training periods that assure the teams the time to develop confidence, a strong bond, skills and allow an overall great training experience -things that just can’t be rushed.
Proven Success. The organizations we recommend have done amazing things from their first years to the present. They got right to work, finding ways to save lives on small budgets, identifying Veterans that needed their help, screening dogs from the rescue world, and often using public spaces for training. After the success of their service dog teams, came well-deserved community support and dollars allowing gradual growth from first office spaces and into the training spaces they occupy today. Today they are determined to help as many Veterans as they can and deserve all of our support and thanks.
If you live close to one of these great service dog organizations, offer your support by volunteering or with your dollars so they can continue to help more Veterans. Go to their websites and look at their “wish lists.”
Go to each organization we list, and as you read more about each of these organizations, we’re sure you will understand why we chose them. Make sure to watch their videos to gain more insight about what our Veterans are experiencing.
Paws and Stripes, Albuquerque, N.M.
Soldiers Best Friend, Glendale, AZ
K9Navigators Assistance Dogs, Upper Marboro, Maryland
Operation Freedom Paws, Gilroy, CA
Our Criteria. The service dog organizations we chose fit this criteria:
Organizations have a proven history of success
Dogs and training are provided at no charge to the Veteran
Veterans are carefully matched with well screened dogs mostly from rescue before training begins
The Veteran and dog train together for periods of six to twelve months
Training includes both “one to one”and “group training” and support sessions with fellow Veterans
Following graduation, the service dog’s microchip and ownership is transferred to the Veteran
Organizations provide adequate follow up and mentoring opportunities
Some organizations are providing counseling to Veterans during the training period.