A service animal, typically a dog, is trained to assist a person who has a disability. Technically any animal can be a service animal as long as they are trained to assist the individual with everyday tasks. No matter what type of animal, they must be certified by accredited schools and/or training program. They can be trained by an individual but must still be certified by an accredited school. Service animals can go anywhere their handlers go with the exception of where food is processed and produced.
For a person with an amputation, service dogs can be trained to assist with many everyday activities that could pose a challenge with a limb difference. A service dog can do such tasks as turning light switches on and off, retrieving items, holding items and helping with getting dressed. Service dogs can also be of great assistance outside of the home by holding doors, carrying small items or pulling a wheelchair. Another advantage of a service dog is that they can be trained to complete specific tasks that the individual needs help with. This can give a person with an amputation the ability to be more independent and adjust slightly quicker to all of the changes in their life.
Outside of the physical assistance a service dog can provide, they can be a wonderful emotional companion. With the many changes that comes in a person’s life after they lose a limb it can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. A service dog can help to prevent loneliness and the sense of isolation by being a constant loving staple in their life.
To start the process of finding a service dog a person first needs a letter from their doctor. Next, they need to find an organization that can help find a companion that will suit the needs of the person with an amputation. Then an assessment for the needs of the dog will be done and a companion will be found. After that, the training and transition plan will be made. The organization will typically be there for any support and further training the dog and owner may need.
Anyone looking for a service dog or animal of any kind will need to keep in mind that there will be a cost associated with owning the animal. Depending on what organization a person is working with to train the service animal some of the initial costs of obtaining the dog could be offset but will be based on each case. The approximate cost of the animal will per year be between $750 and $1500.
If you are interested in utilizing a service animal, check out the following resources: