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Special Needs Dog: How Do I Get a Service Pet for My Family Member?

Image: Special Needs Dog: How Do I Get a Service Pet for My Family Member?
Blind man and dog. (Tomas Hajek/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 12:33 PM

Service dogs have the ability to dramatically improve the quality of life for people with special needs. Not only are service dogs trained to perform specific tasks, they also offer social support, can help with life skills, and assist with medical response.

Those interested in getting a service dog for a family member can help with the application process and the required training sessions for their loved one and special-needs dog.

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To qualify for a special-needs service dog, a person must be disabled. Under the American Disabilities Act, an individual with a  disability is a person who has "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities."

Major life activities "include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working."

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities."

Examples include "guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties."

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Special-needs dog organizations exist in every state which can assist people in finding the right dog as well as the best training for their needs. Also, Assistance Dogs International provides global resources, including access and laws, breed information, service dog training programs, and current service dog news.

Along with the application and training requirements, the person acquiring a special needs dog must have the capacity to provide proper care for their canine companion in a stable home environment.

Applicants must be able to "meet the emotional, physical, and financial needs" of their service dog, according to Paws With a Cause. In addition, applicants must be "physically and cognitively capable of participating in the training process, up to one hour a day," and be able to "independently command and handle" their service dog.

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Service dogs have the ability to dramatically improve the quality of life for people with special needs. Not only are service dogs trained to perform specific tasks, they also offer social support, can help with life skills, and assist with medical response.
special needs dog, service pet, family, member
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2015-33-07
Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 12:33 PM
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