This is the program for those with limited abilities who would benefit from the aid of an assistance dog. This is also the program for qualified veterans.
Veteran sponsorships are available. Please ask us how to apply.
- Complete the Online application or the printable application.
- We will conduct a simple background check.
- Provide a letter from a health-care professional stating you would benefit from the aid of an assistance dog. (Physical therapist, mental health care professional or medical doctor). Veteran status should be discussed at this point.
- Visit the training facility in St. Cloud and casually meet the training director and staff, see the facility and meet a few dogs. Observation of a class is recommended.
- Meet with the Training Director with all family who will be interacting with the assistance dog on a weekly basis. Pets are included in this meeting.
- Meet with PAF staff to discuss the ups and downs of “life with an assistance dog”. (By appointment only.)
- Two PAF staff or Blue level volunteers conduct a home visit and meet with family and pets that are going to interact with dog. This is casual and PAF is looking for a safe living environment.
- PAF will accept or decline your application.
- Read and accept PAF’s terms of agreement.
- Attend a scheduled orientation for training (lesson #1) with a trainer or assistant. This may be as part of a scheduled class; however, the client must be accompanied by a PAF member for their first session.
- Begin to accumulate and record the required 80 hours of “team” training time to receive a PAF dog. It is to your benefit that you work with as many different dogs as possible. We are able to see the “type” of dog which best suits you.
- Attend Basic Lessons #1, 2, 3. (May attend more than once a week, if desired.)
- Attend Basic Lessons #4,5,6.
- Attend two public indoor outings with a PAF buddy trainer (one at a indoor restaurant). These will be two separate outings with different dogs.
- It’s time to start taking dogs on field trips without a PAF buddy trainer. Once the above steps are completed, you may take a PAF dog on a public day trip within 20 miles from the center. (PAF group outings and group training opportunities are also available.)
- Three solo public outings with a PAF dog must be completed before a PAF dog goes for an overnight stay. Client must agree to the terms and conditions for an overnight stay with a PAF dog. (Dogs/Puppies must be 12 weeks old before overnight stay).
- Attend Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Lessons #7,8,9.
- Attend scheduled outings (two per month w/ PAF members)
- Attend CGC Lessons #10,11,12.
- Review and accept PAF’s assistance dog terms and agreement.
- PAF Director and staff begin the pairing process. We sincerely hope we have the appropriate dog for you, however we may have to search for another dog which may meet your needs better than any of the current dogs in our program. We understand your eagerness to obtain a dog of your own and we will expedite this process as fast as possible.
- After receiving your dog, you will begin training for your CGC, CGC-A, Urban and Public Access Certification. You will have to complete 80 hours of dog training sessions with PAF before receiving your final certification. PAF teams must attend one outing or class a month for six months following the Public Access certification. These monthly follow ups will allow us to help resolve any challenges you may be experiencing.
- PAF instructors will evaluate the physical condition of the dog at this time to ensure the overall general health and well-being of the dog.
- You will continue weekly training with PAF until you have trained your dog to perform three tasks pertaining to your particular disability (ADI).
- After an evaluation of those three tasks, you may continue training with our group or train on your own with the understanding that you will:
- Send a written health evaluation every six months from a qualified veterinarian to PAF. (PAF will provide a veterinarian to you free of cost)
- Pass the annual CGC and Public Access evaluation until the dog is retired.
- Demonstrate three tasks pertaining to your particular disability.
*Please note that this process, on average, takes up to two years depending on how quick the client meets the 80 hour requirement and whether or not the dog passes the classes and certifications. It also depends on the availability of dogs that are best suited for our clients’ specific needs. The process may be completed quicker, if desired.