Dogs2Vets

Dogs2Vets Overview

Dogs help people. The primary goal of our Dogs2Vets program is to provide emotional support to Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress or Military Sexual Trauma by establishing a reliable relationship between Veterans and their canine companion. All Veterans accepted through our general application process begin our program with basic dog training with their own carefully assigned dog or pre owned dog if appropriate. Dogs are selected from shelters and matched with Veterans based on specific needs and interests. Whether the ultimate goal is to achieve service dog status or simply to have a well-trained companion, all program participants find support and encouragement from our knowledgeable Dogs2Vets staff and Clear Path team.

The Dogs2Vets Course Description

All participants commit to a 6 week introductory training course that concentrates on the responsibilities associated with owning a dog. The length and nature of the training process varies, and can take up to 12 months or more to complete. The format allows the Veteran and their family to make the choices that best suit their personal path towards reconnecting, restoring and transitioning. We offer a path focused on social engagement, positive outlook, trust and hope all of which is reinforced through the canine partnership.

Program Requirements

  • You are a Veteran.
  • You are able to have a dog where you live.
  • You live within an hour and a half of our facility in Chittenango, NY.
  • You have reliable transportation for attending training, to receive emergency Veterinary care, to get supplies for your dog, etc.
  • You are financially, physically and cognitively capable of providing care for a dog.
  • You can commit to weekly training sessions for up to a year (possibly more).
  • You are capable of training your own dog.
  • You have service-connected PTSD or MST disability.
  • You are in active therapy for PTSD or MST.
  • You have a written letter from your doctor or therapist stating their support for your decision to train your own service dog (if applying for a service dog).

If You Already Own a Dog

You and your dog must undergo an evaluation by Clear Path staff and the program director.

Your dog must:

  • Be friendly.
  • Be younger than 6 (some exceptions can be made)
  • Be spayed or neutered.
  • Have a zero bite history with people and other animals.
  • Be up to date on all vaccinations.
  • Receive a monthly flea and tick preventative.

Not all breeds are recommended for service dog training. Bully breeds or mixes can be a social barrier in providing a neutral bridge between the Veteran and the community. Bully breeds include, but may not be limited to: American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, American Bulldog and Bull Mastiff. Clear Path does not take a stance against bully breeds, however, these breeds are not recommended for our owner/trainer service dog program. Bully breeds are accepted in all other training programs. Please note, giant breeds are not accepted into the program if they are over 3 years of age. If you are starting with a puppy we highly recommend attending our puppy classes first. These are offered on Saturday mornings (please see our calendar). Puppies may take longer to bring through the program as maturity plays a role in a dog’s ability to do service and emotional support work.

Process

All those interested in our service dog or emotional support dog start by filling out a long application form. When this is submitted they will receive a packet via email for registration for the program. We will contact applicants within a couple of weeks to schedule an initial meeting with our staff and collect registration materials. Applicants will be scheduled for their introductory course as soon as a spot is available, typically within a couple of months. There will be a wait period after the initial course depending on availability of dogs (if obtaining a dog through Clear Path), trainers or schedule. The applicant would be then entered into the full program with an individual trainer or in a small group to start their individualized training. This can take up to six months for emotional support or 1 year or more for service dog. 

Note

We maintain an active list of applicants and regularly evaluate our waiting list. Class openings do come about sporadically. Please feel free to contact us directly if you have already applied and are still waiting for a response.

You may call Clear Path for Veterans at 315-687-3300, and ask to speak to someone in the Dogs2Vets program regarding a previous application.