Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is the leading authority in the assistance dog industry worldwide. The process for an organization to become an accredited member of ADI is long and arduous, taking years to complete. In fact, prior to being considered for accreditation, an organization must meet certain criteria such as first becoming a candidate member while adhering to all the ADI standards during the up to five-year period it is given to complete the process. Earning accreditation and maintaining the status involves comprehensive and ongoing review and supervision. To clarify, not all organizations attempt or receive ADI accreditation.
A partial list of requirements imposed on PAVE to maintain its ADI member status include:
- The organization must have nonprofit status, charitable status or 501(c)(3) designation
- Record keeping in every aspect of business, dogs, training, clients, etc.
- Proper screening of dogs and clients
- Humane training methods for dogs and clients
- Minimum number of training hours per day on dogs in the program
- Mandatory health checks for the life of the dog
- Post placement welfare and training sessions, home visits, check-ins
- Ongoing aftercare for the veteran/dog team for the life of the dog
- Reoccurring site visits, evaluations, inspection, every five years from an Assistance Dogs International Assessor
Assistance Dogs International is the gold standard.
Why would an organization want to be accredited by Assistance Dogs International?
ADI enforces strict guidelines and principles to ensure that we meet the highest standards of care for our service dogs and clients. We are entrusted with improving the lives of our disabled veterans through the placement of highly trained service dogs. Our mission requires the utmost professionalism. Oversight is an invaluable piece of the equation when dealing with a client’s health, both physical and mental.
What are the benefits to the person receiving the service dog?
For disabled veterans in particular, there are other benefits of receiving a service dog from an accredited organization. The Veterans Administration works closely with ADI to study the positive effects of service dogs on their veterans in need and to collaborate on issues involving mental health and best practices. They also know that they are aligned with a fully HIPPA-compliant institution. PAVE service dogs are placed with eligible veterans free of charge and we are available for ongoing support. The Veterans Administration specifically refers veterans approved for service dogs to ADI-accredited agencies. Veterans with approved working service dogs are provided veterinary care and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids.
Higher Standards for Service Dogs Serving Veterans with Military-Related PTSD
Training dogs for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder comes with an extra list of mandates from ADI and rightfully so. Paws Assisting Veterans is required to have a mental health professional with a master’s degree or higher on staff, for example. This specialist reviews the mental health portion of our applications and is the liaison between our organization and the client’s mental health provider. In turn, this person provides consultation to the PAVE staff regarding any concerns involving mental health specifically.
The staff members who have contact with the veterans themselves have received extensive training on military related PTSD and suicide prevention. An example of keeping up to date with such issues involved the PAVE staff attending the Suicide Prevention Conference put on collaboratively by the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration in Denver in August 2017. PAVE staff also attended a conference the same year in Maryland for trainers of service dogs serving veterans who suffer with PTSD put on by ADI with top military and VA personnel as speakers, all working together for the benefit of our veterans in need.
The fellow ADI organizations whose directors and staff we meet at ADI conferences across the globe have confirmed to this PAVE staff member that we are in the right place, receiving the highest level of guidance, and conforming to highest standards. Our mission is to serve those who have given so much for our freedom and it is PAVE’s intention to provide for them with excellence in return.