Apply For Our Program
Before filling out an application for our program, please take some time to read through some of the questions below. If you still feel as if a service dog is the right choice for you, fill out the form at the bottom of the page!
Do you have a disability?
The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. More Here –> https://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm
It is possible to have a physical, mental, emotional, or sensory impairment or disorder that is not considered a disability, and only you and/or your medical team can make that determination. Since we are a dog training organization and not an authority in the medical field, we must take your representation of your health as fact when applying for our service dog program, and we are not responsible for any repercussions associated with misrepresenting the state of your health or your health needs. This is especially important when considering the need for a psychiatric service animal versus an emotional support animal. If you have questions about your health, please consult with your doctor and/or other medical professionals.
Are you able to financially cover the cost of owning a service dog?
While our upfront cost for training a service dog is lower than many other organizations, it is still a significant investment. However, there are many other costs associated with the regular maintenance and care of owning any dog, and oftentimes more expensive when that dog is a working service dog. You must also plan for the care of your dog into retirement. Some of the other costs you must be able to plan for may include, but are not limited to:
- Regular veterinary visits (including things like x-rays for mobility dogs)
- Regular bathing and grooming (service dogs must be clean and well-groomed at all times when visiting places of public accommodation)
- High-quality diet
- Leashes, collars, vests, harnesses, pick-up bags, travel bowls, etc. (These may need to be replaced more than once over your dog’s working lifetime.)
- Training treats, toys, beds, other gear
- Paying for a dog walker or doggie daycare services if you are not able to meet the physical needs of your service dog by yourself
Are you able to provide your service dog with adequate exercise and care when he/she is not working?
There may be days where your service dog is required to be idle for long stretches of time, whether that’s during your work or school hours, during travel, doctors’ appointments, or any number of other things. Service dogs still require adequate physical exercise to keep them in good condition and keep their energy well-balanced enough to focus on their work. In addition, you must be able to provide for the every-day needs of your service dog such as feeding, grooming, playing, picking up waste, etc.
Are you comfortable with/able to handle the extra attention you will get from the public?
Especially for those with psychiatric disabilities, having attention focused on you can be a trigger that negatively affects you and can make some conditions worse. Because service dogs are not common, handlers often will get stopped and asked questions, may get challenged by employees of certain businesses, and even have members of the public talk/pet/interact with your dog without permission. Wind River will help to prepare you for public interactions as part of the owner-training portion of our programs, but these interactions will still happen, and while some of them are positive, not all will be.
Are there other ways to mitigate your disability that are effective and require less of an accommodation from public entities?
This is a tough question, but must be asked. For example, if you need help remembering to take medication, you could train a service dog to remind you to do this, or you could set an alarm on your watch or cell phone. If the alarm is sufficient to remind you, that is the option you should choose. Service dogs CAN be a risk for certain businesses (like those that serve food), and it can sometimes be difficult for businesses to make the necessary accommodations.
If you feel that you can successfully cover all the necessary requirements of a service dog AND it is the best way to mitigate your disability, please fill out our service dog program application form!
- Must live in the state of Montana OR no more than 6 hours’ drive from facility (some clients in WA, ID accepted)
- Must be able to provide your own transportation and travel to the facility and other lesson locations
- Clients under 12 must have a parent, guardian, or aide as the primary handler for the dog. Clients 12-16 must have a parent or guardian present during all training but may be the primary handler.
- Clients must follow all rules and guidelines, both written and verbal, given by the trainer. This includes adhering to appropriate training phases, procedures, and practice recommendations. Clients shall not represent their dog(s) inaccurately (i.e. by identifying a dog as a “service dog in training” prior to passing basic training, etc.). Failure to adhere to our rules and guidelines is grounds for immediate dismissal from the program
- Clients must come prepared to all training sessions, including bringing appropriate equipment, training aids, etc.
- Clients must complete the application at the bottom of the page and have funding secured for the training (or authorization for funds to be released) prior to beginning any training program.
Trainers Ally & Kelsey work on public access with two of our service-dogs-in-training