Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply for the service dog program?
To join our service dog program, you can apply right here on our website at https://victorysd.org/get-involved/servicedogapplication/. Victory Service Dogs provides service dogs for Veterans, those in the Warrior Transition Battalion, and First Responders. We require that all applicants pay a nonrefundable $50 application fee, as well as proof of veteranship (DD214), Transition Orders, or proof of First Responder membership. All applicants must supply VSD with a letter from their medical provider stating the need for a service dog and why.
Do I have to be a veteran to apply for the service dog program?
Veterans, those in the Warrior Transition Battalion, and retired First Responders are eligible to apply; however, a caregiver or guardian may apply in place of the client.
Do I have to live in Colorado Springs, CO to apply?
We recommend that applicants live in Colorado Springs or within the surrounding area so that they can reach our training facility and participate in public access practice sessions without the additional driving-time. Participants will be required to participate in 1 class per week for an hour as part of our training program for the 18 months to 2 years it takes to complete the program. We have found that those who live outside of the area struggle to attend training regularly.
What type of service dogs do you train?
We train for those diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and/or mobility issues. Some ways these specially trained dogs can help their owners are by retrieving objects that are out of their owner’s reach, by pulling wheelchairs, opening and closing doors, turning light switches off and on, barking to indicate that help is needed, finding another person and leading the person to the handler, assisting ambulatory persons to walk by providing balance and counterbalance, providing grounding in public places to assist with reducing anxiety, and many other individual tasks as needed by a person with a disability. We are also adding an Advanced Task Training course to our program for graduates. This class will be more specific to the unique needs per client.
How much does it cost to get a dog from you?
A non-refundable $50 application fee is charged by Victory Service Dogs. A dog evaluation is required and specifically meant to test the dog for any behavioral issues such as aggression. WE DO NOT CHARGE FOR THE EVALUATION OF THE DOG FOR THE SERVICE DOG PROGRAM. If accepted into the program, there are three options available to the client: Option 1-Victory Service Dogs will match the client with a donated dog that has been evaluated by one of our certified trainers. Option 2-The client currently owns a dog that they would like to have evaluated by one of our certified trainers. *Disclaimer: Since it is critical that the animal bond directly with the client, it may be more difficult for a family pet previously bonded to other family/household members, to adapt to this change in relationship. Option 3-The client contacts a local rescue/adoption agency, or selects an agency referred by Victory Service Dogs. Once the client has an interest in a particular dog, the dog would need to be evaluated by one of our certified trainers prior to adoption. In this case, the client will be responsible for adoption fees. Clients are responsible for the daily care of the dog during and after training is completed. For dogs that are placed via VSD, we have a 90 day bonding period requirement before the service dog team may begin training.
How long will it take to get a dog?
Once we have successfully completed the interview process and you are accepted as a client, the process of finding a dog for you may begin. The time varies for each case dependent on availability of suitable dogs and the option chosen for dog selection in question “How much does it cost to get a dog from you?”
If I have my own dog, may I still apply?
While we are happy to accept dogs that are already owned by the client, they must pass our dog evaluation. The test gives us an idea of how the dog handles stress, their recovery time, novel stimuli, and sociability skills. If we determine the dog is not a good candidate, we will discuss other options. If we determine the dog is not a good candidate, dependent on your specific needs, we will help clients determine what breed might be a better fit. Certain breeds may not be suitable as service dogs due to their size and temperament. We do ask that the dog provided by the client be no older than 2-4 years old to increase the longevity of their service as a service dog.
How many other pets may I have if I want a service dog?
This question is handled on a case-by-case basis. Our recommendation is no more than 3 dogs per household, including the service dog in-training. There are a variety of obstacles that a client may face when bringing a service dog in-training into a home with other pets. Service dogs in-training need a well-balanced environment with minimal distractions. When there are other animals living in the same environment, some dog may be more distracted and less likely to follow the handler. We work closely with our clients to transition the service dog in-training into a household with standard pets, to the best of our ability. *There is no guarantee that the dog will be able to adapt.
If I don’t get accepted, will you refund my $50 application fee?
The $50 application fee is non-refundable and helps offset the cost of processing your application and the interview.
Should I adopt a puppy?
Most puppies do not understand or comprehend the concept of training before the age of 6 months old. Victory Service Dogs recommends dogs between the ages of 1-4 years. VSD does offer Puppy Basic Training courses for all puppy that have completed their starting vaccinations. Puppy Classes are offered for dogs that are younger than 6 months old. Service dog evaluations are not normally done prior to 1 year of age.
Do I need a service dog or just a skilled companion dog/ESA?
A service animal is trained to perform a function, or do a job, that the owner can't perform on their own due to a physical, intellectual, or emotional disability. While these dogs may provide emotional support and comfort they are specifically trained to provide assistance beyond soothing benefits. A support animal is a companion (not necessarily a work animal) that provides benefit to a person with a medical disability. Support animals don't have to be trained for their role, however, medical documentation is required to receive a designation. Victory Service Dogs only trains service dogs NOT emotional support animals or skilled companion dogs. For more information, consult the Americans for Disabilities Act, listed below.
Does my whole family or any roommates need to attend the interview?
Spouses, partners, roommates or anyone living in the home are encouraged to attend the interview. We don’t recommend bringing children along to the interview since we discuss sensitive topics, however they are welcome and encouraged to attend the training classes. The more involved the family and/or support system is in the process, the more everyone will better understand the process and the more successful your dog will be.
During an interview can I bring my dog?
No, we prefer this time to focus on the applicant. Our CCC (Clinical Case Counselor) will conduct the interview. If you are an eligible candidate, we will make a separate appointment to conduct a temperament test on your dog.
Does Victory Service Dogs guarantee that my dog, or a dog placed in my home, will be able to be a service dog with full access rights after the temperament test?
No, there is no guarantee. Our temperament test gives us an idea of who the dog is in a single moment of time. The test gives us an idea of how the dog handles stress, their recovery time, novel stimuli, and sociability skills. The environment and the genetic make-up of the dog can affect behavior. There is no perfect dog, and sometimes challenges surface later in the training process. We will work with the clients as needed on unwanted behaviors that surface throughout the training and after graduation.
Do I need to recertify with my dog after graduation?
Yes, dog and handler teams will need to re-certify every 3 years by passing the Public Access Test (PAT). The PAT will be a part of the graduation process and demonstrates the dog and handler’s ability to cope in a variety of public situations. Victory Service Dogs is available to provide re-certification PATs for all graduates of our training program.
Is there a way to support future clients using donations?
Victory Service Dogs encourages donors/clients who are financially able, to participate in our "Pay It Forward" program for their donations. The cost to Victory Service Dogs per client is estimated at $500. Full or partial donations are greatly appreciated.
Contact the Victory Service Dogs Office
770 Wooten Rd. Ste 103
Colorado Springs, CO 80915
Hours Open (by Appointment Only):
|Tuesday||9AM – 2PM|
|Wednesday||9AM – 2PM|
|Thursday||9AM – 2PM|