Frequently Asked Questions
I have a dog I would like to donate!
While we appreciate people being willing to give up a dog for our program, the standards required to pass even the initial introduction are high. Currently we reject about 80% of the dogs that we evaluate for the program due to a variety of reasons. If, however, you are truly earnest in wanting to donate a dog:
- The dog must be between 1-1/2 to 2 years old. We do not currently have a foster program in place in order to house dogs younger than this.
- We need any veterinary records available for the dog. While we do have a physical done on the dogs that we believe will excel in the program, knowing about the dog's medical history is very beneficial for us.
- We need a good quality video of the dog demonstrating the following activities: walking on a leash; socializing with people; commands, such as "sit", "(lay) down", "stay", and recall; and off-leash behavior.
- If the dog has had any past incidents of aggressiveness towards people or animals, we cannot consider them for the program. Service dogs are very often out in public, and often around other dogs. Any service dog that bites a person or another dog must be immediately retired.
How much does it cost to train a Service Dog?
The cost of training a service dog can vary between dogs, depending on veterinary needs, length of training, and other criteria. Generally, however it costs around $18,000 - $20,000 to fully train and place a service dog.
Why so much?
Adoption fees, veterinary care, feeding, equipment, housing, trainer time, and travel expenses.
How much of this cost is passed on to the Veteran?
The Service Dogs we train are provided to qualifying Veterans at no cost to the Veteran.
How long does it take to train a Service Dog?
Training times can vary, but it generally takes a year to a year and a half, depending on how well the dog performs in training. We use a four phase training schedule that starts with basic obedience, works through Canine Good Citizenship, task training, and then team training.
The first three phases are completed with the trainer, although we usually introduce the Veteran to their potential dog somewhere around phase 3. The final phase is completed with the Veteran. The dog is placed with the Veteran, and a trainer works with the Veteran and the dog to help build a bond between them, and teach the Veteran how to control their partner. This phase usually lasts three to five weeks depending on how well the Veteran does, and how often they are able to practice. The final step is for the Veteran and their partner to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizenship and Public Access test, moderated by a 3rd party trainer/observer.
What is the difference between a Service Dog and a...?
Emotional Support Animal (ESA): An emotional support animal shares some similarities with a service dog in so much as protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. An ESA is allowed to live in housing that would not normally allow animals, and in some instances, they are allowed to accompany their owners in certain facilities or public transportation. An ESA, however, does not have the right to access that a Service Dog does, and so may not enter into public or private facilities with a "no dog" policy.
Therapy Dog: Therapy dogs are a special class under the ADA that do not provide a service to their owner, but rather are used in certain therapeutic situations. Such situations include stress management, hospice or nursing homes, and even physical therapy. Therapy dogs to not have the right of access, and their allowance into facilities must be agreed upon by the facility management prior to the animal being brought in.
What areas do you serve?
We are based in Kerrville, TX, but serve the entire State of Texas. Currently we have dogs placed in Kerrville, Fredericksburg, San Antonio, and Stephenville, but we have reached out as far as Corpus Christi, Lubbock, and El Paso.
Where do you get your dogs?
All of our dogs come from rescue shelters within 100 miles of Kerrville, TX. We focus primarily on kill shelters, and we will not return a dog to a kill shelter once we have begun the adoption process.
What do you do with dogs that do not pass training?
There are many reasons for a dog not to be accepted into the training program, as well as reasons for a dog not to be able to complete the training program. In the latter case, a dog that cannot complete the program, for any reason, is held by our trainers until a suitable forever home can be found for the dog in question. We give priority to military and veteran families, but anybody is welcome to request to adopt a dog.