FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I apply for the service dog program?
To join our service dog program, you can apply by downloading our application packet right here on our website. Victory Service Dogs provides service dog training for Veterans, those in the Warrior Transition Battalion, and First Responders. We require that all applicants pay a non-refundable $75 application fee, as well as proof of Veteranship (DD214), Transition Orders, or proof of First Responder membership.
Do I have to be a veteran to apply for the service dog program?
Veterans, those in the Warrior Transition Battalion, and retired First Responders are eligible to apply; however, a caregiver or guardian may apply in place of the client.
Do I have to live in Colorado Springs to apply?
We recommend that applicants live in Colorado Springs or within the surrounding area so that they can reach our training facility and attend weekly classes without the additional driving-time. We have recently added a class in northern Colorado. Participants are required to participate in one hour-long class per week as part of our training program for the time it takes to complete the program. We have found that those who live outside of the area struggle to attend training regularly.
What type of service dogs do you train?
We train for those diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and/or mobility issues. Some ways these specially trained dogs can help their owners are: retrieving objects that are out of their owner’s reach, pulling wheelchairs, opening and closing doors, turning light switches off and on, barking to indicate that help is needed, finding another person and leading the person to the handler, assisting ambulatory persons to walk by providing balance and counterbalance, providing grounding in public places to assist with reducing anxiety, and many other individual tasks as needed by a person with a disability. We have also added an Advanced Task Training course to our program for graduates. This class will be more specific to the unique needs per client.
How much does it cost to get a dog from you?
- A non-refundable $75 application fee is charged by Victory Service Dogs. A dog evaluation is required and specifically meant to test the dog for any behavioral issues such as aggression. WE DO NOT CHARGE FOR THE EVALUATION OF THE DOG FOR THE SERVICE DOG PROGRAM. If accepted into the program, there are three options available to the client:
- The client contacts a local breeder from a list that our team has vetted and selected due to their ethical breeding practices and extensive health testing. Once the client has an interest in a particular breeder and puppy, the dog would need to be evaluated by one of our certified trainers prior to adoption. In this case, the client will be responsible for ALL adoption fees. Clients are responsible for the daily care of the dog during and after training is completed.
- The client currently owns a dog that fits our breed exceptions (Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Standard Poodles, and younger than 1 years old) that they would like to have evaluated by one of our certified trainers. *Disclaimer: Since it is critical that the animal bond directly with the client, it may be more difficult for a family pet previously bonded to other family/household members, to adapt to this change in relationship.
- Victory Service Dogs will try and match the client with a donated dog. If a dog is donated to the organization, there will be a foster fee to the client. This process could take up to a year (or longer), depending on the client’s dog preference and availability.
How long will it take to get a dog?
Once we have successfully completed the application and interview process and you are accepted as a client, the process of finding a dog for you may begin. The time varies for each case dependent on availability of suitable dogs and the option chosen for dog selection listed in the previous question.
If I have my own dog, may I still apply?
While we are happy to accept dogs (Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Standard Poodles under 1 year old) that are already owned by the client, they must pass our dog evaluation. The test gives us an idea of how the dog handles stress, their recovery time, novel stimuli, and sociability skills. If the dog passes initial assessment then it will be on a 3-month trial period in our program to more fully determine if it is suitable for the demands of service dog work. If we determine the dog is not a good candidate, we will discuss other options.
How many other pets may I have if I want a service dog?
This question is handled on a case-by-case basis. We require only 2 dogs total (including the service dog) in a home. When it comes to other household pets, there are a variety of obstacles that a client may face. Service dogs in-training need a well-balanced environment with minimal distractions. When there are other animals living in the same environment, some dogs may be more distracted and less likely to follow the handler. We work closely with our clients to transition the service dog in-training into a household with standard pets to the best of our ability. *There is no guarantee that the dog will be able to adapt.
If I don’t get accepted, will you refund my $75 application fee?
The $75 application fee is non-refundable and helps offset the cost of processing your application and the interview.
Should I adopt a puppy?
VSD does offer Puppy Basic Training courses within the program for all puppies younger than 6 months old that have completed their starting vaccinations. While starting with a puppy is wonderful for many reasons, it can also be incredibly stressful in the beginning. This choice should never be taken lightly and without proper discussion with the client’s partner/family/or our Behavioral Health Specialist.
Do I need a service dog or just a skilled companion dog/ESA?
A service animal is trained to perform a function, or do a job, that the owner can’t perform on their own due to a physical, intellectual, or emotional disability. While these dogs may provide emotional support and comfort they are specifically trained to provide assistance beyond soothing benefits. An emotional support animal is a companion (not necessarily a work animal) that provides benefit to a person with a medical disability. Support animals don’t have to be trained for their role, however, medical documentation is required to receive a designation. Victory Service Dogs only trains service dogs, NOT emotional support animals or skilled companion dogs. For more information, consult the Americans with Disabilities Act, listed below.
Does Victory Service Dogs guarantee that my dog, or a dog placed in my home, will be able to be a service dog with full access rights after the temperament test?
No, there is no guarantee. Our temperament test gives us an idea of who the dog is in a single moment of time. The test gives us an idea of how the dog handles stress, their recovery time, novel stimuli, and sociability skills. The environment and the genetic make-up of the dog can affect behavior. There is no perfect dog, and sometimes challenges surface later in the training process. We will work with the clients as needed on unwanted behaviors that surface throughout the training and after graduation.
Do I need to recertify with my dog after graduation?
Yes, dog and handler teams will need to recertify every year by passing the Public Access Test (PAT). The PAT will be a part of the initial completion process and demonstrates the dog and handler’s ability to cope in a variety of public situations. Victory Service Dogs is available to provide re-certification PATs for all graduates of our training program.
Is there a way to support future clients using donations?
Victory Service Dogs encourages donors/clients who are financially able, to participate in our “Pay It Forward” program for their donations. The cost to Victory Service Dogs per client is estimated at $10,000. Full or partial donations are greatly appreciated.
For questions that have not been answered here, please fill out our contact form or call our office number: