Service Dog Client Application Process

The description below is an overview of the application process for a PAALS Service Dog. The process is described in more detail and with greater specificity in the Cover Letter which is included with each application package.

Once a completed application, medical release form, background information release authorization and a DD214 form (discharged military veterans only), application fee and reference letter have been received by PAALS; an initial interview is set up. After the initial interview has been conducted, it is followed by an in-home interview with an assistance dog in training. Video and pictures are taken whenever possible during dog handling times and to get a view of the applicants living environment.

All of the application documentation is presented to the Client Review Committee. This group of professionals typically includes a psychiatric nurse, a guide dog user, a rehabilitative engineer, a dog trainer and the executive director. An application checklist is reviewed to ensure that more information is not needed. Once all the concerns have been addressed, a vote is taken to decide whether it is appropriate to accept the applicant as a PAALS client.

A request can be made by the Client Review Committee to gather additional information and/or ask the applicant to participate in additional dog handling sessions. Additional medical information may also be requested.

Once the Client Review Committee makes a decision about acceptance, the applicant is notified via phone and/or by letter. The process of fundraising to cover Team Training tuition then begins (for applicants not funded by Rob’s Best Friend Fund). A volunteer assistant client coordinator or another assigned volunteer/staff member will invite the client to special events and keep them apprised of potential team training dates.

All applicants are considered regardless of race, color, creed, gender, religion, marital status, age, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition including genetic characteristics, pregnancy, sexual orientation, citizenship status, military service status, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state or local laws.

PAALS reserves the right to put an approved application on hold if the applicant has had a major life change since the application was approved or plans to have such an event in the near future. PAALS also reserves the right to deny an application at any point in time.

Complaint Resolution Policy

If any student, client, applicant, or volunteer should have a problem with PAALS practices, policies, staff members or volunteers, they are encouraged to contact the Executive Director of PAALS at jrogers@paals.org or (803) 820-0741 Should further recourse be sought, the individual should contact the President of the PAALS Board of Directors. The President’s contact information is available through PAALS administrative assistant who can be reached via email at adminasst@paals.org or by phone at (803) 788-7063.

PAALS Policy Statement for Staff and Volunteers

The goal of our staff is to provide each client with the assistance dog that best matches his/her needs and lifestyle. We strive to make sure each person’s facility based training experience is a positive and friendly atmosphere conducive to learning.

  1. Each client will be treated with respect and courtesy.
  2. The PAALS instructor will be familiar with the nature of a client’s disability and will provide appropriate training.
  3. Each client will have reasonable accommodations.
  4. Each client will be matched with a dog that will meet his/her needs as determined by the organization.
  5. The staff will be a source of support during the training period at PAALS.
  6. Each client will receive a complete educational program regarding dog ownership, using the assistance dog effectively and how to handle the assistance dog in public places under the ADA Law.
  7. The PAALS staff will be available for follow up support once the Assistance Dog Team goes home

PAALS Policy Statement for Clients and Applicants

  1. The client will treat everyone with respect and will not physically or verbally abuse the assistance dog that has been matched with the client.
  2. The client needs to follow program standards involving care, exercise, and training of his/her assistance dog.
  3. The client should recognize that our training is in a class environment.
  4. The client needs to treat other clients and the staff with courtesy and respect.
  5. The client assumes full responsibility for the actions of any member or personal care attendant who accompanies him/her for the training period.
  6. The client acknowledges that the care and maintenance of his/her personal equipment or apparatus is his/her responsibility and that this equipment will be in good working order before training begins.
  7. The client needs to participate fully in all training activities including following the directions of the instructor.
  8. The client understands that the instructor needs to teach all the students in the class and the instructor must give appropriate time to all students.
  9. The client promises to voice any concerns or uncertainties in the open and be respectful with instructor.
  10. The client understands that PAALS has the right to discontinue training and disqualify a person as a client if any of the above policies are not followed.