Service dogs can be of great help to children and individuals with autism. Studies, research, and personal accounts have all suggested that a pup can really improve the quality of life of someone who has autism.
However, the recent increase in interest for service dogs in this area have made it more difficult to find a reputable pup provider. Here are 8 tips to help you find a trustworthy organization.
1. Choose a company that it is a member of Assistance Dogs International
This organization ensures that all its members comply to certain standards in their policies and methods. This will ensure that you receive the care and service you deserve from an organization.
2. Review the application process
Some organizations charge a processing or application fee, while many do not. As you apply, you should also be asked questions regarding your child’s age, needs, and therapies, as well as whether you have other pups. You should not be asked regarding financial payments, but you can look these up on the group’s website.
3. Get referrals from previous clients
In order to learn more about the organization, ask them for three families near you that have made use of their service in the past five years, then contact these families to ask about training, follow up, and their impressions of the business itself.
4. Check with the IRS and BBB
Most agencies claim to be non-profit, so give the IRS a call to make sure that this is true. An organization that lies about their non-profit status will likely hide more lies down the line. Contact the BBB as well to ensure that no complaints have been filed against the group you’re using.
5. Request trainers’ and volunteers’ names and credentials
Make sure that those who train the pups are certified to do so. This also makes it easier for you to ask for training techniques and help.
6. Ask about breeds
A wide majority of autism service dogs are of the labrador or retriever breed, or a mix of them. This is due to their calm personalities and family-friendly reputations. Ask about a group’s choice of breed for their dogs and why they were chosen.
7. Sign a contract
Do not make payments, aside from small registration fees, until you have signed a contract. All services and costs should be clearly outlined in this contract. Having one will ensure that if necessary, you can take legal action.
8. Know what to avoid
Steer clear of groups that promise that they can provide fully trained pups in less than one year, or who claim that they can train a dog you already own to become a certified service dog. These are scams. In addition, don’t respond to advertisements on social media.
Be safe and smart when finding a service dog to help enrich your child’s life. Share this information with other who may find it useful!