Providing service dogs for veterans and first responders with Occupationally-Acquired Injuries.
PTSD/OSI service dogs have hte power to transform lives. They can be trained to awake a client from nightmares, maintain a perimeter when working in public and interupt a client's anxious behavior to redirect it.
The non-judgemental support of a service dog also provides a benefit.
Service Dogs also act as 'ice-breakers' to increase interactions of their handler with members of the public.
These Service Dogs cost between $20,000 - $30,000 to train. They a provided to clients at no cost and clients are not required to fundraise. Minor costs do exist for service dog placement (such as a small appication fee) and are paid by the client.
This can only be done with the support of the community in the form of donations and volunteer puppy raisers.
The current wait time for a PTSD/OSI service dog from Hope Heels is 18-24m.
Clients are chosen based on the position on the list and the fit with service dogs that become avaliable. Dogs are never placed based on fundraising efforts.
This waiting period is long due to lack of volunteer puppy raisers.
Hope Heels Service Dogs has an extensive process to determine if a client is suitable to be matched with a PTSD/OSI Service Dog. They first submit an application, then have a phone interview. If successful, then an in-person interview and a home visit occurs. Final acceptance onto the waitlist occurs after the home visit and a client can be disqualified at any point during the application process.
There are a number of requirements of clients to be successful in their application. A selection of these include:
- Being in treatment for mental health (minimum 1/m)
- Does not engage in aggressive verbal or physical conflict with people or animals
- Able to meet the husbandry & training needs of the service dog
- Provide a safe and stable home environment
- Having a non-direct family member as a support person to care for the service dog if needed
- Able to leave the house a minimum 3 days/wk for at least 1 hour per day
Hope Heels places service dogs with Albertans who are first responders or veterans with PTSD or other occupationally aquired stress injuries. The process of training the dog to be a service dog takes between 6-18 months, depending on the team.
As a general policy, we do not allow people to use their own pets as service dog candidates.
Our minimum requirements are that the applicant must:
Have a disability that significantly impairs their ability to function in public in a normal fashion
The disability must have been present for a period of at least 6 months or be of a severity to indicate that the disability is not solely temporary or environmentally based
The disability must be able to be assisted, in that the handler is able to respond to an environmental cue (such as being able to be reminded by a person to take their medication or the use of a cane for balance).
Be able to monitor the behaviour of the dog at all times.
Have the cognitive capacity to be able to understand and consistently implement cause-and-effect relationships
Be physically capable for caring for the dog or implementing a system to care for the dog (including stability in the environment)
Disability must be able to be mitigated by the work of a service dog
Not have any history of intentional animal abuse, neglect or cruelty or have violent behaviour that would pose an immediate risk to the safety of the dog or anyone else involved in the program
Have at minimum a moderate support system and the immediate support system must be in support of acquiring a service dog
Be able to adhere to the minimum standards of service dog handlers, as set out by Assistance Dogs International
Be living in a location within 50km of a Hope Heels program or satellite program
Be able to work with us to use positive (often clicker) training and avoid the use of positive (painful) punishment.
It is a requirement of all of our programs that the person with the symptoms must be able to be the primary handler/trainer of the service dog. The person with the disability must be over 18 years of age.
At no point will eligibility be determined based on an applicant’s religion, ethnicity or any other factor governed by the Alberta Human Rights Act.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to prove (and provide evidence if necessary) that they meet these requirements in order to be considered for the program.
If you have a disability, meet our criteria for our programs that are currently accepting applicants, and you think that you would have the capacity to benefit from training a service dog, please contact us for an application.