PTSD Service Dog Program
Since 2014 Wounded Warriors Canada is proud to have been recognized as a leading funder of the training and pairing of PTSD Service Dogs for Veterans. It is our policy that dogs funded by Wounded Warriors Canada are made available to the Veteran or First Responder at no cost.
As a voting member serving on the Canadian General Standards Board Committee working towards a National Standard for Service Dogs, we are hopeful that a national standard will be in place in the near future and view this as an important step forward. In the meantime, we have identified program partners nationally that continue to lead the way in terms of governance, standards, transparency and results.
In 2014 VAC announced a study of the efficacy of PTSD Service Dogs and we are proud to report that more than 1/3 of the dogs enrolled in the study have been funded by Wounded Warriors Canada!
The training of service dogs is a long an intensive process, taking approximately 2 full years until certification is complete. As such, we continually explore new funding opportunities to deal with a critical shortfall of available service dogs that, in spite of our best efforts and planning, remains at approximately two (plus) years.
Training & Certifications
The process of breeding, selecting, training and subsequently pairing a service dog with an individual is a process that requires both time and funding to execute properly. Although our national providers1 source dogs in different ways, the candidates are pre-screened for sound physical health and stable temperament. At approximately 8 weeks of age the puppies are matched with volunteer puppy raisers. At approximately 18 months of age the dogs enter advanced training and, for the next 4-6 months, undergo all of the task-specific training that is required as they are paired with their Veteran. Program staff work collaboratively to assess and match each dog with the appropriate client on the waiting list. The goal is to meet the needs of each client while providing the dog with a working role that best suits their temperament and skill level.
All certified service dogs funded by Wounded Warriors Canada are provided at no charge to approved clients. The professional staff work intimately with the team (Service Dog and Client) throughout the entire process. Each client goes through a multi-stage on boarding process that includes but is not limited to: a pre-screening interview; a written application including doctor’s notes; an in-home interview and a new client seminar. Only after assessing both the client needs and the dogs temperament and capabilities are the teams brought together. During this period clients are matched with their service dog being taught how to care for, maintain the training, and utilize the skills of their dog. Once this process is completed the teams are given their public access and certification test to become a fully qualified service dog team.
Following certification, teams are monitored on an ongoing basis to maintain Performance Standards and qualifications. Each certified service dog team represents, on average, an 8 year partnership after which the dog retires, after which successor dogs are paired with the client if required. Retired dogs tend to stay with their families and live out their lives with those they have assisted so effectively.
Care for the dogs and the clients is a commitment that is taken very seriously throughout the entire process. Canadian veterans who rely on their service dog are assured to have the support and success they need to achieve their full potential and live enriched lives.
Should you require information regarding obtaining a Service Dog or further information on this or any of our programs please contact:
Philip C. Ralph, CD
National Program Director
Wounded Warriors Canada