We realize that service dogs are not for everyone, but there are many benefits and endless opportunities to working with one.


Service animals are dogs who make a big difference in the lives of those who have physical or psychiatric disabilities. They are trained intensively and extensively to help people who are disabled perform simple, everyday tasks in addition to serving as a companion. In essence, service animals are an extension of an individual who needs and uses them to complete various tasks and improve their overall quality of life.


Service dogs are trained specifically for individuals’ disabilities. For instance, a pooch can be taught to serve as the eyes and ears of a person with a visual or hearing impairment. They also help mitigate psychiatric disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is common among military personnel who have returned from combat duty. Dogs can be trained to wake PTSD sufferers from nightmares and calm them during an anxiety or panic attack. Currently, the VA funds $12 million in research to study the cost-effectiveness of service dogs in PTSD treatment.

Likewise, service animals can be beneficial for children with autism and help them be more comfortable in public, which sometimes even leads to improving development in communication skills or feelings of control with an animal listening to trained commands.

People with mobility impairments can rely on a service dog for specific activities such as pulling a wheelchair, fetching keys, turning on and off light switches and answering doorbells. Furthermore, a service dog can act as a prop in which their handler can brace themselves on so they are able to stand up from laying down or seated placement, as well as while walking or getting into a wheelchair. Hearing service dogs can even alert their deaf partners to someone calling their name in addition to a variety of household sounds such as a door knock or doorbell, alarm clock, oven buzzer, telephone, baby cry, name call or smoke alarm.

Dogs can also help people with other limiting health concerns such as diabetes or seizures. They can be trained to alert to high and low blood sugar, remind individuals when to take medication or alert someone nearby when their partner needs help. In short, service dogs perform several functions which help relieve individuals of their disabilities.


The 1996 randomized controlled trial of Allen and Blascovich stated that trained service dogs can benefit people with mobility impairments enormously. They found having a service dog also can decrease caregiver costs due to the handler’s independence. Service dogs help foster independence and ultimately, enhance their handler’s self-confidence. Service animals enhance a sense of purpose and control over their lives. In addition, being with a service animal is like having a companion by your side 24/7. In addition to helping through trained task work, they assist their partners with overcoming feelings of dejection and hopelessness, which is made possible with their newfound independence.

Service dogs also provide opportunities for social contacts. The study by Rintala et al in 2002 affirms that service dogs have a positive impact on the lives of people with mobility handicap, improving self-esteem and physical fitness as well as enhancing their “social approachability” after a service dog has been assigned to them.

The content above was written and donated by Jenny Holt. Photo courtesy of Caleb Fisher.


Your donation enables us to raise future service dogs, equip our trainers, cover operational costs and place highly qualified, task-trained canines with disabled individuals.