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What is a Facility Dog?

 In PPH Blog, Service Dog Training, Service Dogs

What is a Facility Dog?

Impacting hundreds of people daily, Paws for Purple Hearts’ Facility Dog program aims to spread love and joy throughout a health/human services care facility serving our nation’s brave injured Warriors. Our dogs provide a friendly face to engage patients, families and staff. A Paws for Purple Hearts facility dog provides the real comfort of home for those who unfortunately cannot be at home. So, what exactly is a facility dog trained to do?

Facility Dog, Webb, works at a Veterans Affairs Welcome Center

Facility Dog, Webb, works at a Veterans Affairs Welcome Center

Just like our service dogs, facility dogs go through over two years of thorough training and preparation. They can perform commands like “visit” where they rest their head on a patient’s lap, or “shake” to greet a new Warrior entering the building. Generally they are available for more informal interaction rather than therapeutic intervention. They may work off-leash in a building or office, so we choose dogs that are capable of working independently and enjoy initiating contact and interacting with people on their own.

Simply put, the presence of these dogs boosts morale, builds a welcoming atmosphere and promotes healing for Warriors. These dogs are also very popular with facility staff.

Where does PPH place Facility Dogs?

Together with its handler, a PPH facility dog can roam any facility serving Warriors such as Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, clinics or “Vet Centers,” or Department of Defense (DOD) military hospitals or clinics.

We have placed facility dogs that now work with Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) teams on military bases and specialized units at VA hospitals.

Who is eligible to receive a Facility Dog?

Facility dogs are placed with facility staff. These are professionals working in settings with clients who are Service Members or Veterans who would benefit from interaction with a dog. You do not have to be a licensed therapist or mental health provider to become the primary handler of a PPH facility dog.

Since they are placed to serve at a specific location, these dogs may have multiple primary handlers through their career as facility dogs. If the primary handler transfers to a different site, the dog will likely remain at the original facility, so it is important that secondary handlers are trained how to best work with the dog.

A PPH facility dog’s primary handler will be the main contact person and caregiver at the host facility. This person manages daily activities and routine dog care, while PPH staff provides support as needed.

Does a Facility Dog have the same access and rights as a Service Dog?

Facility dogs are not service dogs, therefore they are not to be used as such by their handler. While they have access at their facility/workplace, they do not have public access rights when they are “off the clock” out in town. Instead, they go home with their handler and are subject to the same regulations and rules as pet dogs.

How can I get a Facility Dog?

If you’re interested in a facility dog, we invite you to read more about the facility dog placement process and fill out our Facility Dog Application Request Form. If we feel our dogs might be a good match for your facility, we will invite you to fill out an official application that will be followed by an interview with us.

Support our Facility Dog Program

It costs around $35,000 to prepare and train a PPH assistance dog for placement. If you’d like to support our mission to improve the lives of our nation’s Warriors and help us raise these special dogs, please consider making a donation online or visit our Amazon Wish List today to purchase supplies for our training centers.

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