FAQ | Service Paws Of Central PA

Q Where should we drop off tabs?

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Q  What area do you serve?

A  We serve the counties of Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Fulton, Huntingdon, Somerset in central Pennsylvania.

Q  how does my donation help?
A  Service dogs can cost up to $35,000 and medical costs for those dogs can
get very high also.  Your donations allow us to provide much needed
financial help. That's why we started this organization.

Q  Where does my donation go?
A  We have no salaries and offices, our expenses are about 1/3 of the money
We've raised, so far.  Our big expenses are interpreters, website
development and printing.  As we get larger donations, and our website is well established, we hope to spend 90 % of our income on our clients.

Q  What do you need the most?
A  We need our organization to become better known in order to attract
qualified Board members, as well as clients in need of assistance.


Q: Are service dogs allowed to go everywhere a person can go?
A:  According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog is allowed any place a person can go.


Q: Is it okay to pet a working service dog?
A: It's important for a working dog to stay focused for the safety of the team and maintenance of training standards.  However, most handlers enjoy interacting with the public when they have the time.   It's an essential courtesy to first ask for permission to pet a service dog.


Q: Do you have to be totally blind to use a dog guide?
A: No.  Many blind people have at least some vision; you do, however, need to be legally blind.   People who utilize a mobility device like a white cane for the blind should evaluate whether or not a dog guide might be right for them.


Q: How old do you have to be to train with a dog guide?
A: Because it takes a certain level of maturity, discipline and commitment to work with a dog guide, the majority of trainees are 16 and older.  There is no upper age limit for people who have the health and stamina to work with a dog guide.


Q: Do dog guide schools train pet dogs for blind people?
A: It's a common misconception that a dog guide is essentially a well-trained pet.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This is one of the most highly-trained working animals you'll ever meet.  Several thousand hours of training have been put into this partnership.  Dog guide schools do not charge for this service.


Q: How long does it take to train a dog guide?
A: At 6-8 weeks, the pups begin to learn house manners and obedience and they are introduced to the world through puppy raisers' efforts.  At 15-18 months, they begin their formal dog guide training, which takes 2-3 months.  They meet their blind partner usually when they are around 1-1/2 years old and the two train together from anywhere between 2 – 4 weeks.  But in reality, the training never stops.   Most dog guide schools maintain continuous contact with their graduates and dogs, and continue to help them adjust to all sorts of situations they may face as they go through their lives together.  This includes whether the person is moving or working in a new area, facing complex traffic situations, or wanting to learn advanced techniques.


Q: How many dog guides are in use in the United States and Canada?
A: There are roughly 10,000 people using dog guides in the US and Canada.  We'd like to see more people become aware of their mobility options and the added benefits of the dog guide lifestyle.   But it does take commitment to invite a living being into your home; that's an essential ingredient.


Q: How many places train dog guides?
A: There are 12 schools accredited by the International Federation of Dog Guide Schools in the United States and still more in other countries.  There may be a perception that all dog guide schools are essentially the same, and nothing could be further from the truth.  Many of them differ in terms of philosophy, methods of training, size, and perhaps most importantly, how well they support the dog-human partnership after the initial training is complete.


Q: Do the dog guides ever get to play?
A: Yes! When the harness is off, dog guides have time to play as family pets.  In fact, play time is essential to maintaining the strength of the bond between a blind person and his/her guide.


Q: Is it okay for a pet dog to greet a dog guide?
A: Before you consider allowing your dog to greet a dog guide, please understand the importance of asking permission first, so the blind person can stop if he/she chooses, and remove the dog's harness to signal play time.   Your dog should be on a leash and under control.  Dog guides are not trained to be protection dogs, but they are busy guiding their partners when they are in their harness.


Q: What should drivers do when they see a dog guide in training or a blind person using a dog?
A: Drivers should be attentive, as they would with any other pedestrian, especially when turning right-on-red.  Dog guides are trained in real-world situations, so it's helpful that you continue going on about your business.  Please don't stop and honk, yell out your window, or otherwise distract a blind person using a dog.  The person is listening for traffic flow to determine when it is safe to give the command to go forward and cross the street.


Q: Why do dog guide schools rely on kids to train their dogs?
A: The kids you see with dogs wearing a school logo are called puppy raisers.  They raise the dogs to be good canine citizens and prepare them for formal training in guidework.  Dog guide training is done on the school’s campus by licensed dog guide mobility instructors.  Dog guide schools also have many adult puppy raisers, too.

It's really quite amazing what these kids and their families do.  They devote incredible time and effort, and have to go through a special course to learn how to properly raise a dog guide puppy.  They teach the puppies obedience and socialize them to the world.  Raising a dog guide puppy involves joining a club and participating in supervised club activities.  It's a commitment that not only grows good puppies, but strengthens families and develops tomorrow's community leaders.


Q: Are service dog puppy raisers paid?
 A: Puppy raising, like other volunteer jobs, is a labor of love, and there is no reward greater than seeing a puppy become a working service dog.  Raisers are paid in puppy hugs and have the pride and satisfaction of knowing they've had a profound impact on someone else's life.


Q: What costs are covered for puppy raising?
A: Most service dog schools provide equipment, dog transportation, training, support, and basic veterinary care.


Q: Where do dog guide schools get their funding?  Do dog guide schools for the blind receive government funding?
A: All of the dog guide schools’ funding is from private sources, donations from individuals and corporations, or from bequests, matching gifts, etc.  Dog guide schools receive no government funding.


Q: Does having a dog guide have an impact on employment for someone who is blind?
A: While statistically more dog guide users are employed than the national average, it's a striking fact that more than 70% of all blind people are unemployed or underemployed, and many live below the poverty level.  Much of that has to do with people just not understanding how capable people accommodate for their lack of sight.


Q: What happens to the dog when it retires?
A: When a dog is ready to retire, the handler can keep it as a pet.  If they can’t, the dog usually returns to its raiser family.  If neither option is viable, the schools have lists of people who will adopt the dog.