VMF’s Service Dog Application, Screening and Placement Process consists of seven phases and is initiated with the submission of a complete Service Dog Application. During the entire process personnel from VMF’s Veteran Team maintain contact with the veteran applicant to facilitate the exchange of information, keep the applicant informed as to application status and answer applicant questions. The process phases are:
Phase 1 – Service Dog Application Submittal & Review
Phase 2 – Supplemental Information Submittal & Medical Team Review
Phase 3 – Service Dog Placement Agreement Terms & Conditions
Phase 4 – In-Person Interview & SDiTs Meet & Greet
Phase 5 – Logistics Suitability Assessment (LSA)
Phase 6 – Advanced Skills Training & Service Dog Placement
Phase 7 – Service Dog Deployment
Upon verification of 1) applicant eligibility and 2) suitability of a VMF service dog (Phase 1), the applicant is requested to submit supplemental information (Phase 2) including medical history, basic financial information, authorization for VMF’s medical team to confer with applicant’s medical team, caregiver, etc. (VMF has board-certified health care professionals as members of our Medical Team, who will confer with applicant’s medical team and caregivers.)
Phase 3 focuses on the terms and conditions of VMF’s Service Dog Placement Agreement, ensuring the veteran applicant understands and can comply with all terms and conditions
Phase 4 consists of an in-person visit (with a travel companion who is at least 18 years old), generally during a weekend, to VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center in Dulles, Virginia. This visit includes two critical meetings:
- One meeting is with VMF’s Medical Team to review and discuss the applicant’s medical history, current medications, and the applicant’s health challenges, disability(ies). This meeting is designed to ensure VMF has the information it needs to make a final determination as to the suitability of a VMF service dog for the applicant.
- The second meeting is with VMF’s Canine Team where the applicant meets with our trainers to discuss basic considerations for handling and caring for a service dog. The applicant will also meet several service dogs in training (SDiTs) with the opportunity to interact with the SDiTs.
This visit is all about “fit” and establishing an effective working relationship.
- Can VMF help the applicant?
- Does VMF currently have an SDiT suitable for the applicant’s unique needs?
- Can VMF and the applicant establish an effective working relationship?
- Is applicant able to comply with VMF’s training requirements?
- Is applicant committed to providing a healthy, safe and secure environment for a VMF service dog?
- Are applicant and applicant’ s family prepared for the changes that will occur by bringing a service dog into their life/family/home?
- Are applicant and applicant’s family prepared to move forward?
Phase 5 consists of an on-site visit by VMF personnel to the applicant’s home and community. This visit normally lasts 2-3 days and is designed to verify that a safe, secure and healthy environment can be provided for the VMF service dog. Typically the LSA includes site visits to the applicant’s home and local community, local travel and community areas, work / school environments, local veterinarian visit, and local trainer visit. (VMF provides transportation, lodging and meals for VFM personnel.)
Phase 6 consists of an in-person visit (with a travel companion who is at least 18 years old), during a week-long period at VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center in Dulles, Virginia. This visit is focused on final pre-placement education and training for the applicant and his/her matched SDiT, and final preparation for the applicant to depart Dulles, Virginia with his/her service dog. Phase 7 includes on-going communications between the veteran and VMF’s veteran and canine teams, continued coordination and consultations with local trainer and veterinarian identified to support the veteran and service dog, and compliance with Service Dog Placement Agreement terms and conditions.