Frequently Asked Questions

Our Program

Getting Involved

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Our Program

What are the requirements for Veterans to be accepted into the program? How can I apply?

  • To qualify for our program, Veterans must have an official diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the Veterans Affairs, a Veteran Center, or their mental health care provider. AVBF also needs documentation that having a Service Animal would be beneficial to the Veteran in dealing with their PTSD. A Veteran’s PTSD does not need to be combat-related to qualify. Active military personnel must submit proof of service, and inactive or retired military personnel must submit a DD214. To learn more about qualifying for our program, please click here.

I am a Veteran with PTSD and I already own a dog. Can I train it to be my service dog in your program?

  • Maybe. In order to be accepted into our training program, all dogs must be evaluated for their potential to serve as a Service Dog. Our trainers will need to conduct an in-person assessment at two locations to satisfy this requirement. If the dog passes the assessment, you may start the application process with your dog. If the dog does not pass the assessment, you may start the application process and we can arrange for you to receive a Service Dog (you may still keep your pet, but it will not be trained as a Service Dog). If you are interested in arranging an assessment, please contact us.

How long does it take for a dog to be trained as a service dog?

  • Most Service Dogs are in training for 12-18 months. Upon passing the Public Access test, the Veteran-dog team needs to be retested annually.

How much does it cost to train a service dog?

  • Because our trainers are volunteers, it only takes $6-7,000 to train a Service Dog in our program, and the cost is not passed on to the Veteran. Nationally, the average cost of training a Service Dog is $30-$40,000, and is usually paid by the Veteran.

Do you train service dogs for people who are not Veterans?

  • No. Our program is specifically designed to meet the needs of Veterans and their families.

What are your service dogs trained to do?

  • Our service dogs are trained to assist Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other disabilities specific to their Veteran, usually mobility issues. To mitigate issues related to PTSD, our dogs are trained to:
  • Create a barrier in front of or behind the Veteran (not guard) when out in public.
  • Alert the Veteran to his/her surroundings during a panic attack.
  • Wake the Veteran from nightmares.
  • Our dogs are also trained in basic obedience commands and trained to behave in public. They are not trained to be protective or assertive.

I am a Veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a mobility issue. Can your program train a Service Dog to help me?

  • Yes, our program trains Service Dogs to meet the specific needs of their Veteran.

Do you work with specific breeds of dogs?

  • No. We work with dogs that pass our assessment, regardless of breed. However, in most cases we will not train pit bulls because of the increased stress caused by breed specific legislation in local areas.

Where do your dogs come from?

  • Our dogs are adopted from local shelters, rescue organizations, Paws in Prison, and received from community members. In order to be accepted into our training program, all dogs must be evaluated for their potential to serve as a Service Dog. For each potential Service Dog, our trainers conduct two in-person assessments, taking into consideration the dog’s age, physical health, history, temperament, intelligence, and desire to learn.

What happens to the dogs that are not successful in your program?

  • Unfortunately not all dogs will be able to complete our program. This does not mean that they are bad dogs, it just means that they are not able to be Service Dogs. The dogs that are not successful in our program are rehomed into the community – meaning that some lucky individual or family gets a very well-trained dog!

Are you associated with the VA?

  • We are a nonprofit organization, not associated with any governmental organization, including the VA.

 

Getting Involved

I would like to donate to A Veteran’s Best Friend. Is my donation tax deductible?

  • A Veteran’s Best Friend is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity, and all donations are eligible to be used for tax deductions. AVBF can provide you with a receipt for each donation (monetary, in-kind, or a combination) and each donor is provided with a yearly letter summarizing their contributions. To donate to AVBF, please click here.

Does A Veteran’s Best Friend accept donations of items and services (in-kind donations)?

  • Absolutely! One of the ways that we are able to keep our costs low and provide Service Dogs and training for free is through donations of items and services that we would otherwise need to purchase. For ideas on what we currently need, please visit our Wish List. If you have further questions or would like to talk to us about an an item or service you would like to provide, please contact us.

Can I sponsor a service dog?

  • We do not accept sponsorships of specific dogs in our program. However, we do accept general sponsorships. These help us cover the costs associated with training and caring for our dogs. Sponsorships are typically $50 per month, or $25 per month for a half sponsorship. Click here to learn more about sponsorships and donations.

What do your volunteers do?

  • Our volunteers are essential to our organization! They train dogs, bake treats, take photographs, help at events, provide facility maintenance, and so much more! We are always looking for new volunteers to help our organization grow. Please click here to learn more about our current volunteer needs.

I have a child who is interested in helping A Veteran’s Best Friend. What can they do?

  • Youth volunteers are a huge asset to AVBF! Youth volunteers can help us with events and demonstrations, photography, research, and more. If a documentation of hours or certificate is needed for the child’s school or other program is needed, we can provide that. The child’s parent or guardian will need to sign a waiver prior to volunteering with us. Contact us for more information about our volunteer opportunities.

I have a dog that I think would be great as a Service Dog. Can I donate him/her to your program?

  • We appreciate your willingness to give AVBF such a big gift. In order to be accepted into our training program, all dogs must be evaluated for their potential to serve as a Service Dog. Our trainers will need to conduct an in-person assessment at two locations. If you are interested in arranging an assessment, please contact us.

I can’t afford to donate right now. How else can I help?

  • Support us while you shop (at no extra cost to you!) – Kroger Community Rewards program donates a portion of Kroger’s profit to A Veteran’s Best Friend when you use your Kroger card, without taking away from your saving or “points,” every time you shop. This requires a one-time setup process, that is described here. Amazon Smile has a similar program, and information on registering for that can be found here.
  • Train a dog – we are always looking for more volunteer trainers. This is a 12-18 month commitment per dog. AVBF will provide the volunteer with training and assistance. Most trainers will also house the dog that they are training until the dog is ready to live with their Veteran. For more information on becoming a trainer, please contact us.
  • Foster a dog – Some of our dogs need help acclimating to living in a home environment or need time to mature before they are trained as Service Dogs. Fosters provide a warm, loving environment for our dogs, and do not need to train the dogs. If you are interested in fostering a dog, please contact us.
  • Volunteer – Our volunteers are essential to our organization! They train dogs, bake treats, take photographs, help at events, provide facility maintenance, and so much more! We are always looking for new volunteers to help our organization grow. Please click here to learn more about our current volunteer needs.
  • Follow us on social media – we are active on Facebook (@AVeteransBestFriend) and Instagram (@AVeteransBestFriendAR). Follow us to see what’s new and repost to tell your friends.