Show Notes: UDS Service Dogs
United Disability Services Foundation (UDSF) is a non-profit organization based in Lancaster, PA. They are committed to helping people with disabilities, including children, veterans, and the elderly, lead more independent and fulfilling lives. While UDSF offers many services to support a variety of needs, one area of interest to many people is their work with Service Dogs. In this episode, John visits with Lori Breese and Kristy Smith of UDSF to find out more.
You may have heard of “seeing eye dogs” before, but did you know that trained dogs can help with a variety of needs? In 2018, Assistance Dogs International reports 16,766 dogs were placed with people who needed support.
Of those 16,766 dogs, 48% were Guide Dogs, 6% were Hearing Dogs, and 46% were Service Dogs.
Of the 46% that were Service Dogs:
- 48% were for mobility support
- 19% for PTSD
- 23% for autism
- 4% for diabetic alert
- 5% for seizure alert
- 5% for psychological service
- 1% for medical alert
Types of Dogs that UDSF trains:
- Facility Dog: trained to interact with a variety of people in a facility setting—ie: schools.
- Service Dog: trained specifically for one individual person to support their individual needs. These dogs are the only dogs that are permitted to accompany their owners in public places where dogs are not typically allowed.
- In-home companion dog: trained to support an individual in their home only
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the process for getting a trained service dog?
- Waiting list—can be up to 3 years
- Once a dog has been matched with a potential owner, they participate in 2 weeks of team training (one on one with a trainer) to learn how to work with that dog.
- After about 30 days, the owner and dog must take a “public access test” to be certified as a team—this makes sure they are safe to be with the dog in public. This must be repeated annually.
- The owner must check in with a monthly report for the first year
- The owner may contact UDSF for help/support at any time during the life of the dog
What breeds are best for service dogs?
- 95% of UDSF’s dogs are Labrador Retrievers
- They also use Labradoodles (good for allergies), Golden Retrievers, and Standard Poodles
Where does UDSF get their dogs?
- Reputable breeders that they work with regularly
- Assistance Dogs International also has a co-op of breeding groups
- People cannot bring their own dog and have UDSF train their family pet as a service dog
What are some misconceptions about service dogs?
- Emotional support dogs are NOT the same thing as service dogs. Emotional support dogs are for comfort only and are not permitted public access. Service dogs, on the other hand, are trained to help one individual owner mitigate their disability in any environment (public or non-public).
- Service Dogs are not a substitute for medical care. They are designed to help an individual manage their disability and assist them as needed in enhancing their life.
How much does a dog cost?
- UDSF invests approximately $25,000 in each dog over the first 2 years. Therefore, they ask the potential owners to invest their own money to put toward those costs.
- Service Dogs: $5000 from client
- Facility Dogs: $3000 from client
- UDSF offers help with financing, sponsorship opportunities (for kids), and fundraising resources
What if a dog is no longer needed?
- The dog usually becomes the client’s pet
- The dog can also retire and/or be re-homed
- UDSF helps provide support as needed
What if a child is afraid of the dog, or has had negative experiences with dogs in the past?
- Give the child space
- Usually, the child sees that the dog is friendly and safe and they usually “come around.”
Want to learn more?
UDSF has a website https://udservices.org/
You can also check out their Facebook page as well as Instagram–UDS Service Dogs