Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications are required to become a VMF puppy raiser?

VMF puppy raisers come in many shapes and sizes. Our puppy raisers include retirees, homemakers, urban professionals, artists, and physicians. They live in apartments, rolling country  houses, farms and suburbia. No experience is required, but a willingness to learn and a daily commitment to exercise, raise, and train a potential service dog is a must.

What are the expectations of a puppy raiser?

Being a VMF puppy raiser is more than daily care and feeding. Our program requires attending weekly SDiT training classes for the first four months and bi-­‐weekly sessions for SDiTs over six months of age. Outreach events to support veterans, socialize dogs and share the VMF story are an additional program requirement. Most classes and events take place in northern Virginia on the weekends.

What is the overall time commitment?

Raising a puppy to become a service dog typically takes between 18 – 24 months. VMF sitters may provide a break for puppy raisers by dog sitting during raiser vacations and during some weekends.

What support will I receive?

Every step of the way, the VMF staff and training team stand ready to answer questions and assist you with challenges.

What is the application process?

After you complete and sign the application, agreement and photo/media release, please mail the completed forms to Veterans Moving Forward, Inc., 44225 Mercure Circle, Suite 130, Dulles, VA 20166, or scan the documents and submit via email as PDF file attachments to Applicants will be contacted by VMF’s Puppy Raiser Coordinator for follow-­‐up information, and will scheduled for an interview with VMF’s Director of Canine Operations. To help prepare you before receiving a puppy to raise and train, you will observe several dog training classes and participate hands-­‐on during the training, attend a 4 week pre-­‐ placement class series, and complete two to three, multiple-­‐day puppy sits. In addition, VMF staff will conduct a Logistics and Suitability Assessment (LSA) at your home to help you get your home environment ready for the puppy.

What does SDiT stand for?

Service Dog in Training

Will I incur expenses for a puppy I raise for your organization?

VMF provides equipment and supplies, such as crates, leashes, and a starter set of toys. VMF also pays for veterinary care and negotiates with local veterinarians who discount their professional services. As a nonprofit that relies solely on the generosity of donors, VMF values your contributions to cover most of the care, feeding and miscellaneous outfitting expenses for a purposely-­‐bred puppy that we’ll provide. VMF will provide you a tax-deductible receipt to reflect your cash and in-kind donations made to VMF during the tax year.

How is veterinary care handles?

Veterinary care is provided by VMF. The raiser is assigned a local Veterinarian that will support our Service Dogs in Training during their time with the raiser. Our Director of Canine Operations negotiates discounts for services provided for our SDiTs. All of our SDiTs have their neuter/spay procedure as well as their PENN hips and elbow x-rays done at 1 year of age – these procedures are performed at VCA Alexandria by Dr. Donna Krochak. Our SDiTs have a CERF eye exam performed by Dr. Bromberg at VCA Southpaws at 12-13 months of age. All other supportive care is provided by each SDiT’s assigned veterinarian.

How do puppies get into VMF’s program (sources & health screenings)?

VMF currently has several breeders we work with in securing our Service Dogs in training. These breeders have all the medical and health clearances for their breeding colony dating back multiple generations. Our puppies come from breeders who typically breed to meet the very specific health and temperament required of working dogs. Our puppies are evaluated at 8 weeks of age to determine their suitability based on temperament and aptitude to enter our Service Dog in Training program.

What is the Dog Placement Process?

Once approved for receiving a VMF Service Dog, the veteran is invited for a two-day visit (typically a weekend) at VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center. This visit includes a meeting with VMF’s Canine Team and current service-dogs-in-training that are ready for matching with a veteran. This visit is all about “fit” and establishing a working relationship between VMF and the veteran.

  • Can VMF help the veteran?
  • Does VMF have a dog that can meet the veteran’s specific needs?
  • Is the veteran able to comply with VMF’s training requirements?
  • Is the veteran committed and able to properly care for a service dog?

Upon a successful veteran-service dog match, the next phase in the placement process includes an on-site assessment of the veteran’s home and local community environments, and advanced skills training for the matched service dog tailored to the specific home environment and veteran’s needs.

The final phase of the matching process is focused training for the veteran and service dog team conducted during a five-day period at VMF’s Training Center and the surrounding geographic area. This is a transition period, where the veteran and service dog solidify their partnership and depart VMF as a confident, trained team.

The placement process is typically a two to six month process.


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