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- increasing patient motivation
- increasing rate and length of participation in treatment or activities
- helping therapists and patients define specific goals and functional outcomes
- promoting use of language
- increasing social interaction among residents
- increasing feelings of security, well-being, and belonging
- creating a more home-like environment
- improving staff morale
Some examples of specific activities and outcomes that can be achieved with the use of a dog in a therapeutic setting are given below.
Examples of fine motor tasks
Examples of large motor tasks
Examples of mobility tasks
Examples of speech/cognitive tasks
Examples of therapy tasks (for dog)
Examples of measurable outcomes
Hero Dogs prefers to place facility dogs in settings which serve large numbers of Veterans, military personnel, or military families, although this is not a requirement. The setting may be residential, inpatient, or outpatient. It may be a privately owned practice or a government or other publicly operated facility. Facilities should be within approximately 60 miles of Hero Dogs (Brookeville, MD).
Although the dog will be placed as a facility dog, ultimate responsibility for the dog and for meeting the dog’s needs for safety, care, companionship, exercise, health, and training must reside with a single person. Dogs will be placed on a six-month trial basis with ongoing evaluation of the success of the placement, after which time the responsible party will assume ownership of the dog. While joint supervision of the dog among qualified staff members is permissible, joint ownership is not. An individual must sign the adoption and transfer agreement.
It is expected that the dog will accompany the staff member to work on a daily basis. It is strongly preferred that the dog go home with the staff member each night so that the dog may have a respite from work and a normal and loving home/family environment, just as human staff members do. Other living arrangements may be approved on a case-by-case basis. During the work day, the dog’s needs for exercise, interaction, and rest must be met.
The dog must be under the supervision of an approved staff member at all times when in the facility. The dog may not be permitted to roam freely about the facility. There are too many potential dangers – patients or visitors may let the dog outdoors, they may feed the dog things that are harmful or toxic to dogs, they may drop medications on the floor or try to give them to the dog.
The dog must also be supervised at all times when outdoors. The dog must either be on leash or enclosed in a safely fenced area when outdoors. Even when in a fenced area, the dog must be under direct staff supervision – it cannot simply be left outside.
The dog must have a comfortable, quiet area within the facility where its crate may be kept and the dog can be placed for its safety or simply when the dog needs rest and down time. Participating in therapy, particularly emotionally charged situations, can be very draining for the dog.
Although the dogs offered for placement as facility dogs have had a high level of training, that training must be maintained if the dog’s behavior and skills are to be maintained. This necessitates a commitment from the staff member(s) to undergo training themselves, and to agree to continue to work with the dog on an ongoing basis. Approximately 24 hours of initial training will be required (generally divided as three days at Hero Dogs and one day at your facility) before placement. After placement, a monthly training session (3-4 hours) is required each month for the following six months. This follow-up training may be conducted at Hero Dogs, at your facility, or at the staff member’s home, as dictated by training needs. If the placement is successful, a certification examination is conducted at the facility at the conclusion of the six months of follow-up training.
There is no fee to adopt a facility dog from Hero Dogs; however the facility or staff member is expected to bear the costs of:
- All usual expenses for owning and caring for a dog, to include high-quality food, dog supplies, local licensing/registration, monthly parasite preventives, and veterinary care. On average, these costs can be expected to total about $1,000 per year. However, a single veterinary emergency can easily cost $3,000 – $5,000 or more. The facility may wish to consider purchasing pet health insurance. Hero Dogs will provide you with an initial supply of necessary items at cost (estimate $700).
- The costs of transportation (and lodging if necessary) for visits to Hero Dogs for your facility staff member(s) – initial training, six follow-up training sessions, and graduation.
- The costs of transportation (and lodging if necessary) for a minimum of three (3) trips to your facility for a Hero Dogs staff member – initial site and home visit prior to placement, placement, and certification. Additional visits may be needed for follow-up training sessions.
- If additional training or site visits are required or requested, Hero Dogs will charge a fee for staff time and travel.
Meet the Hero Dogs facility dogs
Hero Dogs “Murphy” is partnered with occupational therapist Jen and works at Brookedale Westminster. Murph brings great joy to residents daily as he works with Jen and physical therapist Lisa, enabling residents to keep their strength and independent mobility as long as they can. Murph’s special brand of gentle affection brings a smile to every face.
Hero Dogs “Chester” is partnered with Amy, a licensed clinical professional counselor, and works with her in her private practice. Chester works to provide a warm and inviting atmosphere in the office, engaging clients by playing ball with them, demonstrating his skills, cuddling on the couch, getting his belly rubbed, and helping clients feel safe and cared about.
Available for placement
Meet Hero Dogs Jan C. Scruggs (“Scruggs”). He is a two-year old neutered male yellow Labrador retriever (DOB: June 2, 2015). Scruggs is an exuberant and affectionate dog and is very popular with everyone in our program. He has been in our program since he was a puppy and continues to work on advanced skill training. Unfortunately, Scruggs has developed allergies that will require treatment for rest of his life. The additional expense and commitment to a strict treatment regimen make Scruggs an unsuitable candidate for service dog duty.
Scruggs is a friendly, well-adjusted dog and should be successful in a family with children or other pets. However, he does like company and would not do well in a situation that would require him to be home alone all day. We feel that Scruggs has the potential to thrive in a Skilled In-Home Companion position (no public access). This would give him the opportunity to continue to use his hard-earned skills as an assistance dog, but not in an environment where his allergies could be distracting for him or his partner. Scruggs could also excel as a Facility Dog for a mental health practitioner. He is very affectionate and enjoys physical contact, and could provide the calm and accepting atmosphere desired in a therapeutic setting.
Requirements to adopt Scruggs:
- Financial ability to maintain allergy treatment and diet (about $750-$1,000 per year in addition to normal veterinary costs for a dog)
- Willingness to give allergy serum shot every two weeks for the rest of his life (can be done at home)
- Willingness to give antihistamine shot every 4-6 weeks for the rest of his life (must be done at veterinarian)
- Willingness to adhere to a strict diet and purchase specific food and treats
- Not left home alone all day, every day
- Willingness and ability to provide ample exercise for a young and enthusiastic retriever
- A fenced yard is preferred (NO electronic fences)
If you are a mental health practitioner and are interested in adopting Scruggs as a Facility Dog for your practice, please click here to read the requirements for Facility Dogs and to fill out an application
If you are interested in adopting Scruggs as a Skilled In-Home Companion to a veteran, first responder, or military family, please click here to apply.
Because of his medical needs, there is no fee to adopt Scruggs. There is a training requirement for placement as either a Facility Dog or as a Skilled In-Home Companion. A home visit will be required, so potential adopters should live within approximately 60 miles of Brookeville, MD.
For more information or to apply
If you are a clinician who may be interested in receiving a facility dog, please fill out an application here: http://www.hero-dogs.org/facility-dog-application.
If you have additional questions, please call 888-570-8653 or email email@example.com.