HARVARD, IL. McHenry has a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on changing the lives of people with disabilities as well as shelter dogs in need of love and a home.
Dogs On the Go Assistance Dogs’ mission is to provide affordable assistance dogs to persons with physical and mental health disabilities. The dogs are all rescues from local partnering animal shelters.
Initially, Dogs On the Go will focus on training two types of assistance dogs: Hearing Dogs for persons with a hearing-impairment and PTSD Support Dogs for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Trained Assistance Dogs have public access rights under the American Disabilities Act as well as state laws. All the dogs receive training in obedience and public access skills.
Julie Gibson, a Licensed Social Worker, is Secretary for Dogs On the Go Assistance Dogs. “I am proud to be part of Dogs On the Go because one assistance dog team can change two lives forever…imagine the positive energy of that!”
Hearing dogs provide assistance by alerting people who are deaf or hearing-impaired to sounds they would otherwise miss. The dogs make physical contact with the person using one or two paws and then lead them to the source of the sound. Typical sounds the dogs are trained for include: a door knock, door bell, cell phone, name call, and smoke alarm.
PTSD Support Dogs assist when a person with post-traumatic stress experiences symptoms such as flashbacks or anxiety. The dog makes physical contact that helps calm the person and bring them back into the present moment.
A wide vary of dog breeds can become assistance dogs, including small to medium sized mutts. Potential trainees must have a stable temperament and the ability to cope successfully with all public access situations. Trainee dogs are fostered by Dogs On the Go. If it becomes clear that a trainee doesn’t have the right qualities to become an assistance dog, the trainee dog is returned to the local no-kill shelter partner - with obedience training, socialization, and some house-breaking experience that enhances their ability to be adopted as a pet.
It takes approximately 6 to 9 months to fully train each dog. Dogs On the Go hopes to begin placing assistance dogs with Illinois and Wisconsin residents in the spring of 2018. It costs approximately $8,000 to train each dog. Many assistance dog programs have at least a year wait list for a dog, and some much longer.
Evans, Dogs On the Go President, wants to make sure that assistance dogs are fully available to people throughout Illinois and Wisconsin.
“People on Social Security Disability deserve as much access to assistance dogs as others with more financial resources. We need more assistance dog programs to meet the demand, and we need more programs that limit the financial burden on recipients. ”
Dogs On the Go receives no government funding and relies entirely on generous donations from individuals and corporate sponsors. For more information, please visit the Dogs On the Go website at www.dogsonthego.us or call 815 770-7300.