Canine Companions for Independence
Shepherd Center’s Canine Companions for Independence Greater Atlanta Chapter is an accredited program that gives trained dogs to their companion for free following an interview process. Canine Companion dogs are primarily for skilled companionship (40 learned commands), retrieving/delivering items, tugging/pushing/pulling light weights and turning lights on and off.
What Assistance can Service Dogs Provide?
Service dogs provide assistance for people with disabilities other than vision or hearing deficits. Service dogs may be used to help people with mobility impairments, balance deficits, autism, seizures, low blood sugar or psychiatric disorders. For users of manual or power wheelchairs, service dogs can provide assistance with tasks such as retrieving items, opening things, switch use, transfer assistance and barking for notification.
These dogs are not trained in the following ways:
- As guide dogs for the blind
- To do seizure or diabetic alert/response
- To anticipate or detect medical symptoms
- For the primary benefit of emotional comfort or social support
- To recognize and/or manage undesirable human behavior
- To provide supervision
- For navigation
- To provide safety from environmental hazards
- To respond aggressively
- To provide personal protection
- To assist with the management of mental illness as a primary condition
Service Dogs FAQs
According to Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act:
“A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”
Title II and Title III of the ADA currently state service animals are limited to dogs with the exception of miniature horses. The ADA does not protect emotional support and comfort animals.
Service dogs are either rescued from animal shelters or selectively bred. The vast majority of service dogs are golden retrievers or Labrador retrievers. These dogs are raised by volunteers and receive formal service training.
- 90% response rate to commands on first ask
- Basic obedience skills
- Consistent performance in home and community
- Must be trained in at least three tasks specific to owner to address disability
- Must meet Assistance Dogs International Standards:
- The Assistance Dog Program must meet monthly follow-up for first six months of ownership
- Identification of service dog as laminated ID card with photo, tags and best
- Staff demonstrate educational training yearly reviewing multiple disabilities
- Clients chosen must adhere to Assistance Dogs International standards
- Dogs must be spayed/neutered and remain current with vaccination
Learn more at AssistanceDogsInternational.org.
Complete a program search via Assistance Dogs International.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old to apply for a service dog. Applicants who are 25 years or older with a stable home life are most suitable. Additionally, applicants must be at least one year post injury. Learn more about assistance dogs.
Applying for an Assistance Dog
Canine Companions can only accept a limited number of applicants per year. Many individuals are in need, so Canine Companions must determine and select those individuals who would benefit the most from the trained tasks performed by Canine Companions assistance dogs.
- Complete an Application Request. Fill out the online form to request an application at canine.org/apply.
- Complete Application. Complete the full application for a Canine Companions assistance dog (four to six weeks after request received).
- Telephone Interview. Talk with a Canine Companions staff member about needs and interest (on average three weeks after application received).
- Medical or Professional Reference Forms. To be completed by your physician or therapist (on average two weeks after interview).
- Personal Interview. Meet in person with a Canine Companions staff member to discuss interest and evaluate dog temperament needs (on average three months after reference forms received).
- Selection Review. If accepted, qualified applicants receive acceptance paperwork and are placed on the waitlist (two to four weeks after interview).
- Invitation to Team Training. Join us at a two-week Team Training class to be matched and train with your assistance dog (on average one to two years after acceptance).
Learn more at canine.org.
Meet Our Facility Dogs
Derek works all over Shepherd Center and can often be spotted with his owner, who works for the Shepherd Center Foundation. Follow him on Instagram @mcdreamythedog.
Galion is a facility dog who works for Shepherd Center’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program in the ABI-S unit.
Check out his YouTube video.
Check out our facility dogs on YouTube!