Service Dogs are dogs that are specifically trained to help mitigate a person’s physical disability. At this time, we offer mobility assistance dogs and PTSD service dogs. We do not currently train guide dogs or alert dogs of any kind. Service Dogs can be trained to do a wide variety of tasks to help their handler, such as pulling a wheelchair, fetching dropped items, opening doors, turning on or off lights, fetching medication during a medical crisis, and providing tactile intervention to redirect a handler. Service Dogs are allowed by law to accompany their handler wherever the public is allowed, with very few exceptions.
Candidates for Service Dogs must submit all required portions of the application. If the applicant qualifies for a Service Dog through Mission Working Dogs, the next step is an interview with some of our staff. Owner-trained Service Dogs will be considered provided the owners veterinarian and our veterinarian agree that the dog is a valid candidate for training. Dogs must pass health checks, temperament testing, undergo a minimum of 250 hours of training with us, and pass a skills assessment as well as a public access test in order to graduate from Mission Working Dogs and be considered a true Service Dog. Before graduating, candidates will also be required to fundraise $4,000 either on their own or by attending Mission Working Dogs fundraising events.
Therapy Dogs are defined as a pet dog that is trained specifically to provide comfort and love to community groups like hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Therapy dogs do NOT support a specific person. Handlers are certified as a team with their dog to ensure the dog acts safely and under control while visiting vulnerable populations such as those in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. They may also be trained to work at one specific facility and be permanently assigned there. Therapy dogs do not have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and must have prior authorization from each facility they enter.
Candidates for Therapy Dogs must submit all portions of the application. If approved by the board, the prospective dog will undergo physical assessments and temperament assessments before being approved for training. Training can be done in group classes for dogs of similar skill levels or in individual sessions for a slightly higher fee. In order to graduate, candidates for Therapy Dog must pass at least three of four practical assessments; two locations of our choosing and two of the handlers.
Facility Dogs are specially trained dogs that work with a volunteer handler to provide certain skills as well as therapeutic support to the facility. Such dogs can be trained in Service Dog skills to aid a group in a residential setting or clinic setting such as a rehabilitation hospital, school, prison, etc. The dog is more than just a presence in the building but does not have any rights when leaving the facility unless accompanied by the handler and directly working with a client with a disability. An example of this might be a Facility Dog and the volunteer taking a person with a disability on an outing from a mental health facility to work on community integration skills. The Facility Dog could be aiding by calming and redirecting the individual, directing them to an exit during a health crisis, carrying emergency medications, or assisting with balance and physical skills. The cost of receiving a fully trained facility dog varies based on the skills requested by the facility.