Rescue Pre-Screening for Possibility Dogs
Here is the list of items we have to consider before a dog in rescue can be evaluated for Possibility Dogs. While there is more latitude in terms of physical condition for ESAs and therapy dogs, the other criteria below are the same for all. Any dog we bring in to the program must be safe for both the partner and the public.
Service dogs partner the disabled in public and private spaces. These dogs assist one disabled individual. To be a credentialed service dog in our program, these dogs will pass the Public Access Test and task testing with a high-reliability score.
Emotional support dogs (ESAs) provide comfort to their partners in the home, but are allowed to travel on airplanes, etc. with appropriate medical documentation. Emotional support dogs in the Possibility Dogs program must pass the Public Access Test required of service dogs, since ESAs may have a public presence in travel situations.
Therapy / comfort / animal-assisted activity dogs: engage with the public in school, library, healthcare and other facilities, and some in disaster recovery venues. These dogs must pass both the CGC and deportment testing akin to the Public Access Test.
For service: 1 year-3 years ideal. We prefer younger if no obedience training. Age 3 with obedience training (particularly good leash behavior) is fine. Because puppies cannot show us what their adult structure will be like, we cannot accept puppies as service candidates. We need to see their adult bodies.
For ESA: 9 mos and up. Upper age limit varies by size and breed, but typically no older than 8. Special needs welcome if appropriate for dog and partner.
For therapy/comfort work: 9 months and up! Seniors welcome! Special needs welcome if appropriate for dog and public.
Purebred and mixed breeds welcome. We evaluate on a dog-by-dog basis and are not breed-discriminatory. We are bull-terrier supporters and black dog supporters!
Must be good with men, women, children, infants and toddlers.
Must be good with other dogs (large and small) and cats. Some dogs may not have been introduced to cats at the time of discussion. There are workarounds for this situation, but all candidate dogs must be safe around cats.
Must enjoy interaction with people--willing to engage, to play, to receive affection. Must not display any extreme fearful, reactive, or aggressive behavior in any context. Must be free of any type of resource guarding behavior with other dogs or humans.
Should not present as a flight risk, have separation anxiety or be storm phobic (remember, service dogs and ESAs, particularly, could be separated from their partners in the event of medical emergency--a dog must be able to remain calm with strangers in that interim).
Must be housebroken.
Obedience skills highly desirable.
Willingness to learn obedience skills (if limited) very desirable.
For service: good health, good eyes, no obvious presenting knee or hip issues. Service dogs are very active and need to be able to walk comfortably.
For ESA: good health in general; some special needs dogs (blind, deaf, wheel-supported) may be considerable for some clients.
For therapy: good health in general; special needs that can be accomodated (blind, deaf, wheel-supported, hand-carried) do not exclude a candidate.
Heartworm survivors in good health welcome for ESA and therapy. Heartworm survivors may be considered for service with veterinary all-clear, no remaining physical/stamina compromise due to illness.
Please check our Facebook page for information on current dogs in rescue that have passed initial evaluations for service,emotional support, and/or therapy. And for dogs of interest (un-evaluated, but recommended) that may also be good candidates.
Possibility Dogs accepted into the program are all rescues, have demonstrated aptitude for service or therapy work, and may be mixed breed or purebred; young, middle-aged, or senior (for ESA and therapy dogs). Check our Facebook page (http://facebook.com/possibility dogs) to follow our day-to-day activities beside the dogs!