Have you ever thought about Service Dog puppy adoption? I’m sure you’ve seen Service Dogs out on the streets, in your local mall, or maybe the grocery store, but did you know that you can adopt one of these beautiful, well-behaved dogs? Most of this information how to adopt a puppy is based on my experience and knowledge with Guide Dogs of America.
What is a Service Dog?
According to the American Disabilities Act (federal) any dog assisting a person with a
disability is considered a service dog (exclusive of therapy dogs). Service dogs are entitled to freely access buildings and transportation (trains, planes, buses). Some of the common
service dogs are:
- Dogs for the blind – Often referred to as “Guide Dogs” or “Seeing Eye Dogs”
- Hearing and Signal Dogs – Dogs trained to assist deaf people.
- Assistance Dogs – A varied category. Dogs will often help by picking things up, open and closing doors, and pulling wheel chairs
- Therapy Dogs – Not considered by law as a Service Dog. Therapy dogs visit hospitals, care facilities, nursing homes, etc to cheer up patients. – For the re levance of this article we will not be talking about Therapy Dogs.
How Does A Puppy Go From Puppy To Service Dog?
First, it’s important to understand the process a Service Dog puppy
goes through before achieving the status of Service Dog.
- Breeder Dogs are housed by foster families near Service Dog facilities such as Guide Dogs of America in Sylmar, CA.
- Breeder Dogs are bred and have litters at the Service Dog facility.
- The litter stays at the facility until approximately 7-8 weeks of age.
- At 7-8 weeks of age puppies move on to live with individuals and families called puppy raisers.
- Puppies are evaluated and learn basic obedience throughout the puppy raising period for approximately 18-22 months.
- At 18-22 months the puppies are brought back to the Service Dog facility for formal training.
- Puppies attend formal training for 4-6 months. During formal training puppies learn advanced commands specific to the disability they will assist.
This is just a short step-by-step and does not include every detail in a Service Dog Puppy’s training.
How Can I Adopt A Service Dog Puppy?
Service Dog training programs are very rigorous and not all puppies will become Service Dogs. At Guide Dogs of America it is said that approximately 40% of the puppies who start the program will not make it as a Guide Dog. So what happens to the puppies that are career changed (don’t make the guide dog program)? The puppy raiser has the first choice to keep the puppy. If the puppy raiser declines to keep the puppy then the puppy is adopted out. Who gets to adopt the puppy? Currently at Guide Dogs of America there is a 5 year wait list for people interested in adopting a retired or career change guide dog. They are not accepting new applications.
Guide Dogs are not working service dogs their entire lives. Working Guide Dogs can be retired due to health problems or old age. The blind partner has the first option of adopting his/her retired working Guide Dog. The puppy raiser has the second option of adopting the retired Guide Dog. Finally, if neither opt to adopt the dog then the dog is adopted out to a family/individual who applied for puppy/dog adoption.
What about other Service Dog Groups?
There are many other Service Dog groups and their policies and procedures for puppy adoption are probably similar to Guide Dogs of America. However, other groups may be accepting applications for new adoption families. Here are a few groups I’ve come across on the web with headquarters in California:
Are you interested in Service Dog puppy adoption? Have you ever raised a Service Dog puppy or adopted a Service Dog? I’d love to hear what you have to say.