Our Dog Program Overview
The America’s VetDogs assistance dog programs were created to provide veterans, active duty service members and first responders that are disabled, the opportunity to live once again with pride and self-reliance. VetDogs serves veterans from all eras and first responders who have honorably served our country and community by placing specially trained assistance dogs to help them once again lead active, independent lives. Not only does an assistance dog provide support with daily activities, it provides the motivation to take on new challenges.
All services are provided at no cost to students — this includes your dog, transportation to and from our campus in Smithtown, NY, instruction, and more.
America’s VetDogs and its parent organization, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, are the only two assistance dog schools in the United States accredited by both Assistance Dogs International and the International Guide Dog Federation.
Through training and placing guide dogs with those who are blind or have low vision; hearing dogs for people who have lost their hearing later in life, service dogs for those with other physical disabilities, facility dogs that work as part of the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals, or PTSD service dogs to help mitigate the effects of PTSD in an effort to provide the emotional and physical support needed; America’s VetDogs is helping those with disabilities who have honorably served our country and community regain their independence.
The hallmark of our dog programs is the meticulous matching program that ensures that each applicant is teamed with the dog that best suits that person’s mobility, personality, lifestyle, and physical needs.
The America's VetDogs training programs offer a 2:1 student/instructor ratio and incorporates a blend of customized training to meet the specific lifestyles and needs of students while maximizing the training time in class for students and their dogs as they prepare for real-world situations. Students will also participate in lectures on grooming and care for their dog, obedience practice, accessibility awareness and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and assistance dog etiquette for non-working dog users.
ADI Public Access Test
All service dog handlers must pass the Assistance Dog International (ADI) Public Access Test prior to leaving our facility. The ADI Public Access Test ensures that dogs are stable, well-behaved, and unobtrusive to the public. It is to ensure that the veteran has control over the dog and that the team is not a public hazard.
To make the students’ on-campus stay as comfortable as possible, the Student Resident Hall offers single rooms with private baths and individual climate control; all rooms have private telephone lines and an Ethernet connection, along with free Wi-Fi. The Student Union features a spacious dining room, comfortable lobby, snack room, smokers’ room, recreation room with entertainment center, exercise and grooming room, computer lab (with adaptive technology for student use), and an outdoor patio.
Our graduates and their dogs are guaranteed lifetime aftercare support. After the new team returns home, we follow up with them to determine how they are working together. This allows the team to receive personalized attention in their home environment as they adjust to their daily routine. We maintain regular contact with all our graduates, and graduates have access to our dedicated Consumer Services team. We will also work with you when it comes time to retire your dog, and discuss the options for a successor dog.
Types of Dogs
- Guide Dogs A guide dog is trained to find and follow a clear path, maneuver around obstacles, and stop at curbs. A veteran with a guide dog gains enhanced mobility and independence.
- Service Dogs A service dog is specially trained to help veterans who have disabilities other than visual impairment. A dog can be trained to provide balance, retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, turn on and off lights, or carry a backpack.
- PTSD Service Dogs (Pilot Program) A PTSD service dog is trained to help mitigate the effects of PTSD in an effort to provide the emotional and physical support a veteran might need. In addition, a service dog can be specially trained to provide balance, retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, turn on and off lights, or carry a backpack.
- Hearing Dogs A hearing dog is specially trained to assist veterans who have encountered hearing loss. Hearing dogs can alert their handler to sounds around their home and in public.
- Military Facility Dogs These specially trained canines are deployed in theater for active military personnel. They offer emotional support for servicemen and women dealing with combat stress, home front issues, and sleep disorders.
- Prison Puppy Program With more service men and women coming home from conflicts needing assistance dog, America's VetDogs needed a new avenue to train and provide dog to meet the increased demand. For the past several years, the organization has been working with select prison to help raise the dog that will eventually be provided to disabled veterans.
If you are not a veteran or first responder, please reach out to the VetDogs Consumer Service office at 866-282-8047 to learn about your options.