More service dogs will help with disabilities, PTSD

Above: Minister Sabir and MLA Rod Loyola meet with representatives of Alberta’s new qualified list of service dog providers.

by Morinville News Staff

The province says it has introduced five new, qualified organizations that can train, test and provide service dogs to Albertans with disabilities and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Hope Heels Service Dog Team Building Institute, Canadian Canine Training Corporation, Very Special Paws, Red Dog Training Solutions, and Courageous Companions join existing groups Dogs with Wings, and Pacific Assistance Dogs Society. The government says other organizations across Alberta that produce, train and assess service dogs are encouraged to apply to be on the qualified list.

One of the new groups trains PTSD service dogs to support first responders and military personnel.

The province says all of the organizations were tested to ensure they meet Alberta’s training standards and can provide dogs that meet the unique needs of those who require their support.

“Qualified service dogs are dedicated to helping people navigate daily life and, in some cases, even save their lives,” said Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services, in a release Tuesday. “I am proud to improve access to service dogs for persons with disabilities and, for the first time, those affected by PTSD. I look forward to seeing more service dogs in our communities.”

John Dugas, owner of Courageous Companions believes having more qualified schools is great news for Alberta. “This will help meet the demand and empower more people with independence, freedom and access to their communities,” he siad.

PTSD dogs are trained, like other service dogs, to respond to the unique needs of their handler, including interrupting repetitive or self-harming behaviour, reminding the handler to take medication, retrieving objects and guiding a person away from stressful situations.

“I am pleased by today’s announcement,” said MLA Nicole Goehring, Government of Alberta’s Liaison to the Canadian Armed Forces. “Service dogs can substantially improve the lives of military veterans and anyone suffering from injuries such as PTSD.”

The government awarded $250,000 in grants to support qualified organizations with training, testing and providing service dogs. The funding will also help individuals who want to ensure their self-trained dogs meet Alberta’s new standards.

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