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Susquehanna Service Dogs Companion Dogs

Therapy dog

These are specially trained dogs that are placed in a family with a child with autism. These dogs are available only to families living within one hour driving time of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This would include all or part of these counties: Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, Lancaster, Lebanon and York.

The dog will have good basic obedience, good house manners, vaccinations will be current and the dog will be neutered and come with a complete health history. The dog may be specially trained in one or several tasks to aid the family and/or child.

The dog will be specially matched with the family and there will be at least 10 hours of training with the family and the dog so the family will understand how to continue the training and cue the dog appropriately. These 10 hours will be accomplished in at least 5 separate training periods. A training book and dog supplies will also be provided.

The match will be made by working with specific dogs and a therapy dog handler. These visits will help the family understand the possibilities of the SSD companion dog and the possible impact on their child with autism and their family.

SSD will be available for any follow up that is necessary to help ensure that the dog continues to be a valued family member. There will be at least yearly communications for the life of the dog.

The SSD dog will not have public access so will need to follow local dog laws and access rules for housing and public accommodations.

The process:

  1. Fill out the preliminary application on line, indicating that you are applying for a companion dog and describe your family's and child's needs.
  2. Family participation in an in home interview with two SSD representatives and a demo dog is the next step.
  3. After the interview, if the family and SSD agree to continue the process, the family will complete selected parts of the formal application.
  4. There will be at least 4 therapy dog visits scheduled with the family and the child with autism.
  5. When an appropriate dog is found and matched with the family, the training dates will be scheduled.
  6. At the completion of at least 10 hours of training, the family will sign the ownership papers for the dog and at this time will make payment for the dog.
  7. The cost of the dog is $2,500. The family may elect to make payments of at least $250 a month for 10 months.

Questions regarding this process may be submitted via e-mail to SSD at ssd @ keystonehumanservices.org.

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