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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Adopt a Government or Service Dog Who Either Retired or Didn't Graduate from Training

There is nothing like a great viral dog story, especially if it is a story of a service dog!  

When we think of travel, there are new rules in place affecting service dogs on planes, but service dogs have to undergo extensive training!  Those that graduate training go on to have an important role, but what about those that don't finish training or have completed their careers? 

You're just strolling along, minding your own business, rolling your suitcase through the airport, and out of the corner of your eye, there it is.  Being walked along by a TSA officer is the cutest dog you have ever seen. We've all experienced the cuteness that is puppies you aren't expecting to see, then only to be let down when we realize we can't go near them because they are a TSA Canine in Training.

The TSA Canine Training Center trains and deploys both TSA-led and state and local law enforcement-led canine teams

You probably didn't consider how much training a dog goes through before they can become part of the highly trained detection teams that detect explosives, drugs and other prohibited items and provide a visible deterrent to terrorism.  The TSA is very open about this training and if you have a chance read about the TSA Canine Team Training, you will have a greater appreciation of the job these dogs are doing!

We are always touched by stories of service dogs!  Recently the story of Sully, President George H. W. Bush's service dog that kept vigil by his casket tugged at our heart strings.  (Sully has a new role at Walter Reed Army Hospital, where he will help to comfort and serve other veterans.)

 Sully, President George H.W. Bush's service animal

But what happens to the dogs that don't make the cut as a service dog with the TSA or other programs?  While many service dogs do graduate and go onto have successful careers, there are a number of reasons they can be dropped from their programs, including nervousness, lack of drive, or a personality that doesn't fit the requirements.

The TSA has an adoption program with dogs available for adoption that do not meet the TSA Canine Training Center criteria for government work.  Due to overwhelming demand, this program which has strict criteria for adoption, is currently closed to new applications!  When this program reopens here is an idea from the program of the types and number of dogs that may be available:

• 350: average number of canines that complete training per year
• 140: average number of canines in training at any given time
• 7: breeds of canines that are in the program, include German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, German Short-haired Pointers, Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, Belgian Malinois, Golden Retrievers
• Approximately 83 percent of canines graduate from the training program

That's not many!  So where else could you look for a "retired" or "rejected" service dog?  Here are some sources but the time to actually adopt a dog may be years in most cases:

This article is not about having or traveling with a service dog!  This is about adopting a dog that either didn't make the cut or is retiring from a special service.   If you feel a service dog may help you in overcoming some of the obstacles of your disability, contact one of many organizations, like Patriot Dog Training, who are able to help guide you to a more independent future.

Baxter is a Service Dog with Advanced Training by Patriot Dog Training

Baxter was trained by Benito Olsen with Patriot Dog Training.

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