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Answers to Your Questions

Learn more about our organization, Service Dogs, laws and regulations for Service Dogs, the new PA campus, and more with our Frequently Asked Questions.

You would need to fill out an application at Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs.

Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs offers an Apprentice Training Program, and you would need to apply with them.

No, we do not train dogs.

There will be multiple opportunities at the new campus, and you will need to reach out to Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs. Ensure you let them know you are interested in the Western PA Campus.

We aren’t building the campus; Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs is. The reason they need the campus is they are at capacity in Florida and can help more Veterans only by increasing the number of Service Dogs available, and this can only be done through a second Campus. PA was chosen because of the demonstrated interest in our region, and by locating a campus here, there would be significant savings in cost.

Determining if you need a Service Dog as a Veteran depends on your individual circumstances and health condition. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Assessment of Need: Consult with your healthcare provider or a mental health professional. They can assess your condition and help you determine if a Service Dog would be beneficial for your situation.
  2. Physical Disabilities: If you have physical disabilities that limit your mobility, a Service Dog can be trained to assist with tasks like retrieving objects, opening doors, or helping you to move around.
  3. Mental Health Conditions: Many Veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions. Service Dogs can be trained to perform tasks that help mitigate these disorders. This can include interrupting harmful behaviors, providing comfort during an anxiety attack, or waking you from nightmares.
  4. Daily Life: Consider your daily routine and lifestyle. If there are tasks that you struggle with due to your condition, a Service Dog might be able to help.
  5. Commitment: Having a Service Dog is a significant commitment. They require daily care, exercise, and attention, much like any other dog. You should consider if you’re ready for that responsibility.
  6. Programs for Veterans: There are organizations that specifically provide Service Dogs for Veterans. They can guide you through the process and help you understand if a Service Dog would be a good fit for you.
    Remember, a Service Dog is not a substitute for medical treatment but can be a valuable tool in managing your condition and improving your quality of life. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making a decision.

Remember, a Service Dog is not a substitute for medical treatment but can be a valuable tool in managing your condition and improving your quality of life. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making a decision.

There are several alternatives to Service Dogs that can also help individuals with physical, mental, or emotional health issues. Here are some alternatives and how they might help:

  1. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs): These animals provide comfort and companionship to people with emotional or psychological conditions. They don’t need specialized training like Service Dogs. If you’re in need of emotional support or comfort but don’t require assistance with specific tasks, an ESA might be a good fit.
  2. Therapy Animals: Therapy animals are used in therapeutic settings, like hospitals or nursing homes, to provide comfort and relaxation. They do not have public access rights like Service Dogs but can be a good option if you benefit from animal interaction in a therapy setting.
  3. Assistive Devices: Depending on your needs, assistive devices such as canes, wheelchairs, or hearing aids might be a practical alternative. These can help with mobility, hearing, or other physical needs.
  4. In-Home Caregivers: For those who need help with daily tasks, an in-home caregiver might be a more suitable option. They can assist with activities of daily living and provide companionship.
  5. Counseling or Therapy: If your needs are primarily psychological, regular sessions with a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist may be beneficial. They can provide strategies to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions.
  6. Peer Support Groups: Joining a group of people who share similar experiences can provide emotional support and shared coping strategies.
  7. Medication: Depending on the nature of your condition, medication might be recommended by your healthcare provider.

It’s important to discuss these alternatives with your healthcare provider to determine the best fit for your needs and lifestyle. Remember, what works best may depend on your individual situation, personal preferences, living arrangements, and financial resources.

Service Dogs, comfort dogs, and therapy dogs all play unique roles and are defined differently:

  1. Service Dogs: These dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities, such as guiding visually impaired people, alerting deaf people to sounds, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other duties. They’re legally recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the U.S., which grants them public access rights.
  2. Comfort Dogs (Emotional Support Animals): Comfort dogs, also known as emotional support animals (ESAs), provide therapeutic benefits through companionship to those suffering from mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. They don’t have specific task-training like Service Dogs and aren’t granted the same legal protections under the ADA, but they do have certain housing and air travel rights under the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act, respectively.
  3. Therapy Dogs: These dogs are trained to provide comfort and joy to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, disaster areas, and more. They’re often used in therapeutic settings to improve patients’ mood and well-being. Therapy dogs don’t have the same legal rights as Service Dogs or ESAs; they’re not allowed in places that don’t permit pets unless they’re given permission.

In summary, the key differences between these types of dogs lie in their training, their purpose, and the legal rights they’re granted. Always check local regulations, as these can vary by location.

  • While Service Dogs can form close bonds with their handlers and are cared for in a similar manner to pets, they are not considered pets. Service Dogs are working animals trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities. Their primary role is to help their handler navigate daily life and manage their disability, not to provide companionship like a pet would.
  • Because of their special training and the important job they do, Service Dogs have certain legal rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States. This includes the right to accompany their handler in public places where pets might not be allowed, such as restaurants, stores, and on public transportation.
  • It’s also important to note that interactions with Service Dogs should be approached differently than with pets. For example, it’s generally not appropriate to pet or distract a Service Dog without the handler’s permission because it could interfere with their work.
  • So, while Service Dogs can certainly be loved and valued members of the family, they are not pets in the traditional sense. They are working partners and aids for people with disabilities.

  • Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are allowed to accompany their handlers in public places where pets may not be typically allowed. This includes hotels, motels, restaurants, movie theaters, concerts, ball games, grocery stores, department stores, and more.
  • The ADA requires businesses and organizations that serve the public to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies across the United States and is the universally accepted standard.
  • However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, a business can deny access or ask that a service animal be removed if the animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or if the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
  • It’s also worth noting that the business staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
  • Keep in mind that these laws may vary by state or local jurisdiction, so it’s important to check local regulations as well.

  • Service Dogs are trained to do work or perform tasks for persons with disabilities. They are protected by the American Disabilities Act, meaning they have the same access to public spaces as people do. They are medical devices, like wheelchairs, rather than pets. You can’t be denied entry to a public place due to your service animal.
  • Comfort and/or emotional support animals are not service animals and are not recognized by the ADA, so they would not be permitted to enter an establishment that does not allow pets.

If you’re interested in supporting Life Changing Service Dogs For Veterans, there are several ways to get involved. You can volunteer your time and skills to assist with various tasks, from administrative work to event planning and more. To become a member, navigate to the “Get Involved” section above. There, you’ll find detailed information on how to become a volunteer or member. Your contribution, whether it’s your time or expertise, can make a significant impact in helping Veterans receive the Service Dogs they need.

Since its inception in 2015, Life. Changing Service. Dogs For Veterans has committed to turning over 100% of the funds it raises for Service Dogs or the Campus. As an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (EIN 37-2010072), all donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Separate fundraisers cover our operating expenses, enabling us to fulfill this promise.