FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a service dog for veterans?
A service dog for veterans meets the same criteria as defined by Assistance Dog International. A dog that works for individuals with disabilities other than blindness or deafness. The dogs are trained to perform a wide variety of tasks including but not limited to; pulling a wheelchair, bracing, retrieving, alerting to a medical/mental health experience, and providing assistance in a medical/mental health experience.
How does a veteran qualify for your program?
A veteran must meet the following criteria for eligibility:
- Honorable discharge, medical retirement or retirement from service;
- Diagnosis of a service-connected disability;
- Provide documentation from a licensed clinician and/or physician that a service dog would be a beneficial tool as part of a comprehensive treatment plan;
- Stable housing and source of income (income may include disability payments)
What documentation do you require from the veteran to ensure credibility?
A completed application must include:
- A completed R22 application available at www.rescue22foundation/apply;
- A copy of the DD214;
- A letter from the clinician/physician;
- A copy of VA disability rating (if applicable);
- Personal and professional reference for contact.
Where do you find the dogs that become R22 Service Dogs?
R22 utilizes dogs that come from either a rescue or re-home situation.
Who decides if the dog is a good fit for the program?
R22 receives hundreds of calls, messages and emails from individuals wanting to rehome or donate a dog to us or social media tags from shelters requesting that we take a dog into our program. These requests far outweigh our organizational capacity.
Dogs accepted into our program MUST BE EVALUATED by one of our lead trainers or an affiliated trainer that has received evaluation guidance directly from R22.
We are extremely selective regarding “the Right Dog for the Job” as selection of a dog that can not fulfill the necessary tasks will result in a significant loss of resources (time and money) as well as degrade the quality of life for the veteran.
How long does it take to train and deliver a service dog to a veteran in need?
This is easily the most difficult question to answer on behalf of veterans and interested funders.
The honest answer is IT DEPENDS and VARIES WIDELY ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS.
From application, to the extensive review of needed tasks to dog selection to training to integration can take anywhere from one year to two years.
Some of the medical cases that we have accepted will take at minimum a year for just the training portion of the program.
QUALITY CAN NOT BE RUSHED OR MASS PRODUCED!
What is the funding amount required for each service dog for a veteran in need?
The average cost of a service dog for mental health needs such as Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) is $22K.
The average cost of a mobility or medical service dog is $30 to 35k.
It is important to keep in mind that the number of tasks required (the complexity of the veteran’s needs) as well as the dog’s pace of learning, largely dictates the final cost of each service k9.
How many veterans are currently on your wait list?
R22 has 10 veterans on the waiting list that have completed all phases and requirements of our application process. Additional applications will not be accepted until 7/2020 at the next annual board meeting.
What does R22 need the most to support the veterans in need of a service dog?
We need the financial resources to support the following:
VETERAN SERVICE DOG TRUST: Funds used specifically for the care and training of our k9s. It also includes the cost of veterinarian care, equipment, and travel for the integration of the service dog and veteran.
SUSTAINABILITY FUND: Funds used specifically for any follow up training needed for the service dog/veteran team as the mental health or medical condition evolves over the life-span of the team.
The IMPACT PROJECT: Funds used specifically for our participation and resources needed for the ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES FOR VETERANS WITH PTS.This is a formal partnership with Governor Ron Desantis, the Florida State Legislature and the University of South Florida. The Fund works strategically with USF and key stakeholders to provide data that supports the efficacy of service dogs as a resource for veterans with PTS. The end-goal of the project is to open up public funding through the state which will significantly broaden access for veterans in need.