Please send the following to
A Veteran’s Best Friend
P.O. Box 329
Cabot, AR 72023
All dogs must pass an assessment to be trained in our program. If you have a dog to train, please contact us to schedule an assessment. If your dog doesn’t pass or you do not have a dog, one will be provided.
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.
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:
Our dogs are also trained in basic obedience commands and trained to behave in public. They are not trained to be protective or aggressive.
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 re-homed 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.
Cherokee helps keep me calm by creating physical barrier and moving me when my adrenaline goes up. Even after we graduated, I taught Cherokee new tasks to help me. I was able to do this because AVBF taught me how to train Cherokee and worked with us as a team. Ken
Before getting Buddy, I always looked down at the ground. Now, because of him, I am able to make eye contact with people. He helped restore my confidence, a positive impact that has lasted even after Buddy stopped working. Connie
Shelby motivates me to get out of the house. She'll bring my boots right to the bed and watch me until I get up. She has allowed me to relax when we go out, and to stay out longer. She also reminds me to take my medications. Alan
The thought of going out in public used to be terrifying. Since getting Athena, I have the confidence I need to spend more time outside of my home. Dorinda
Axel has made it possible to go out in public. Having him made me face my problems, and with him by my side, I was able to overcome anxiety and depression. Amanda
Dusty has not only turned my life around, but he has given me purpose. He calms me when times get rough. He has given me something to focus on other than bad memories and bad times. He brings joy and laughter to our lives. He has become part of our family. Tim