CONTRIBUTOR: Raven Akashiya
My last post was about how a pet can help with PTSD; which got a lot of positive feedback and I was asked to write on receiving a service pet (specifically about dogs). Unfortunately, today I am going to break some hearts while making others very happy.
*I did my research for receiving a service dog through Medicalservicedogs.com (this site is for service pets for civilians, not veterans.)*
With this site there is a very in-depth application process so that a pet can be custom trained; after your application is reviewed and approved there is a home visit to ensure that the dog they train is the right dog (size, breed). Then there is a waiting list which can take from one to four years before approval. Because service pets are extremely high in demand the waiting period is four years.
Don’t be too downhearted; there is another way to get a service pet. It isn’t easy and it won’t be done tomorrow, but it is possible and will take less than four years. You can always get a puppy and train it yourself. And positives to training a dog yourself is that it only knows one master not multiple handlers and you can choose the breed. In order to train however there are three parts that your dog must be trained in and must pass each segment. The first is basic obedience (the dog must be able to pass both on and off a leash), the second is public-access skills (also known as dog work class), and the third is disability-related access. After the dog receives the “Good Canine Citizen” award (must pass the test) you can get the vest (in public service dogs must wear a vest stating that they are working). One of my favorite sites to get a vest is Raspberryfield.com. Remember that there are certain laws in different states while training about where your pet can go. A minimum of 6 months public training is required by many states (check to see your laws). REMEMBER: DO NOT LET YOUR DOG PLAY WITH THEIR VEST ON! The vest is strictly to be associated with work; do not confuse them by mixing both.
In my area each class is $80 a piece and you can take the classes through one of the local veterinary clinics, but remember each place is different. In order to figure out this information for your area it will take time and effort but will be worth it. Training can take anywhere from one year to two years, it all depends on how fast of a learner your dog is.