Facility dogs are trained to work for one handler who serves many people with special needs. They may work in a courthouse, a school, a counseling center or a hospital. They provide unique motivation, create an increased feeling of safety, and infuse a difficult situation with a bit of light and joy.
- Educational settings: A facility dog engages students in special ed classes. Benefits include increased attention, improvement in language development, more social interactions.
- Counseling settings: the dog helps to create a safe space where people, especially children, can talk about deeply personal issues. The dog can even attract someone to counseling who may be reluctant to get help.
- Health care environments: Activities such as grooming, feeding, and playing fetch with a facility dog aids patients in physical and mental rehabilitation programs. Benefits for health care facilities include increased patient motivation resulting in faster healing and greater range of motion , more social interaction, and improved morale among patients and staff.
- Courthouse settings: A facility dog eases the pain of individuals with physical, psychological, or emotional trauma due to criminal conduct, helping them undergo forensic interviews and may also help when they have to testify in court.
Facility dog handlers are working professionals responsible for handling and caring for the facility dog. Additionally, facilitators are committed to long-term employment where they directly serve clients with special needs a minimum of twenty hours per week.
One of the most valued qualities of the facility dog is the unconditional love and attention it gives to the clients and patients with whom it interacts.
In order to be eligible for a facility dog, applicants must:
- Be employed working a minimum of 20 hours a week with a marginalized population
- Have approval from their employer for the use of a facility dog
- Be able to demonstrate the ability to safely and effectively control, manage, and care for a dog
- Be willing to attend a two-week transfer camp at the SDV training center
- Be willing to participate in on-going training