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What is a service dog?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animals:

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Service dog information | Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office. If you have further questions about service animals or other requirements of the ADA, you may call The U.S. Department of Justice’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).

Visit the ADA webpage

Please visit the following webpage for more information about service dogs and the VA: FAQ Service Animals on VA Property

Is a service dog right for me?

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PAVE trains the service dogs to be reliable public access dogs that behave well in public and at home. The dogs are trained to perform general physical assistance tasks, for example opening the fridge or a door, picking up items, assisting on stairs, retrieving medicine, and other tasks as needed.

PAVE assistance dogs are also trained to be a calming presence and alert teammate. If the veteran has nightmares, the service dog is trained to wake the veteran and calm him/her down. PAVE service dogs redirect veterans during a PTSD episode; they reduce hypervigilance through teamwork and prevent panic in public. PAVE service dogs are not trained for any protection work but expected to be friendly and non-aggressive toward all people when in public. PAVE does not train medical alert or balance service dogs. Please visit www.assistancedogsinternational.org for organizations that specialize in these areas.

What are the requirements for participating in the PAVE training program?

The veterans should:

  • be able to attend training in Portland Metro, Oregon,
  • be able to provide their own transportation and lodging during training,
  • be able to meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of a dog, or have an adequate support system in place to do so in areas where the veterans are unable to do so,
  • be willing and able to commit to the training program including daily training sessions with the PAVE dog and agree to adhere to the PAVE guidelines and training rules,
  • agree to adhere to the PAVE rules and regulations concerning the ongoing care and training of the dog,
  • have the full support of family, roommates, and caregivers, in the quest to receive a PAVE dog, and
  • be able to provide financial support for the dog including quality prescribed food and equipment plus veterinary care.

Veterans need to be honorably discharged and provide application materials from their medical provider endorsing placement of a service dog.