Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who qualifies to be considered for a service dog?
  2. What is a facility dog and who is qualified to be considered for one?
  3. What is a Facilitator Assisted Companion Dog (FACD) and who is qualified to be considered for one?
  4. How do I apply for a service dog or companion dog (FACD)?
  5. What is the training process to get a dog?
  6. What are my requirements after receiving a dog?
  7. Does everyone that applies for a dog receive one?
  8. Can a dog be removed from my home?
  9. What happens if I no longer need the dog?
  10. What are the requirements to become a foster home?
  11. I would like to volunteer, but can't foster a dog, what else can I do?
  12. Is there an age limit on who receives a dog?
  13. I have a disability and have a great dog and I would like it to be certified as a service dog, will you certify my dog?
  14. My apartment building doesn't allow pets, so I want to get my dog certified as a service dog, or I want to take my dog on vacation with me and it needs to be a service dog, can you certify my dog?
  15. I have a 5 year old dog I can no longer take care of, can I donate it to PGI?
  16. What happens to dogs that do not make it to service dog?

Who qualifies to be considered for a service dog?:

Anyone with a documented disability may qualify for a service dog. Many of our dogs are for wheelchair or mobility issues. For example, brace dogs can be used for someone with Parkinson's or MS. We also train dogs to respond after a seizure occurs, help guide individuals with partial sight loss, and alert to sounds for those with hearing loss. Documentation from a physician may be required before starting the process, which ensures that only people with disabilities recieve our dogs. The dog must aide with a disability.

What is a facility dog?

Facility Dogs are expertly trained dogs who partner with a facilitator working in a health care, therapy, visitation, or education setting. The dogs work in professional environments and can perform over 40 commands designed to motivate and inspire clients with special needs.

Who qualifies to be considered for a Facilitator Assisted Companion Dog?

We call these dogs "companion dogs" for short. These dogs may go to individuals with disibilities including, but not limited to, autism, Down's Syndrome, or other developmental delays. The dog accompanies the child with a certified facilitator. These dogs may go where the facilitator and child go, but are not certified for school. It may help with transitions from one location to another. The dog must help with a disability; it is not a family pet.

How do I apply for a service dog or companion dog?

Applications are on the website. Once an application is received, the board will look at the application and decide which applicants will best benefit from the skills of our dogs. If you qualify, you will be notified and put on a waiting list. When it is time to start training for a dog, we will do a home visit and contact your veterinarian to be sure all animals in the home are spayed/neutered and up-to-date on shots. There is no charge for our service dogs. Once you are approved, you will start the training process. PGI reserves the right to deny anyone a service dog for any reason.

What is the training process to get a dog?

All recipients must train in Peoria, IL weekly for several months to get a minimum of 25 hours of training. The purpose of these classes is to have the recipients work with many different dogs and learn the commands so they can control the dogs they receive. If you are unable to come to training class in Peoria, please do not apply for a dog. Once the 25 hours are complete, you are officially on the list to get a dog. There will be three home visits with the dog before final placement.

What are my requirements after receiving a dog?

Recipients are required to come to weekly classes for one year after receiving the dog. This helps us to fine-tune the training and assist with additional skills the dog may need as the recipients' needs change. Recipients are welcome to come to class for as long as they like and may join us at all outings. The cost of the dog's vet care becomes yours after placement. Dogs must be kept up-to-date on shots, flea control, and heartworm prevention.

Does everyone that applies for a dog receive one?

No. We have a limited number of dogs, so we need to choose the recipients whose needs best meet the skills of our dogs. We reserve the right to deny a dog without stating a cause. Reasons for denial may include, but aren't limited to, failure to pass the home visit, poor veterinarian check, or past problems with animal control issues. We may also deny a dog to an individual if we do not feel we can train a dog to meet the individual's needs.

Can a dog be removed from my home?

Yes. There are set rules you must follow, which include coming to training class, keeping dogs up-to-date on shots and flea/heartworm control. If there are any signs of medical/physical neglect or mistreatment, the dog will be removed from the home.

What happens if I no longer need the dog?

Dogs that are no longer needed should be returned to the program so someone else can receive the dog. When the dog gets too old to work, we ask that you keep it as a family pet, and we will train another dog for you to use as a service dog. We feel a retired service dog will be much happier in the home it has lived in its whole life.

What are the requirements to become a foster home?

A foster family will commit to approximately a year and a half of training of their dog or puppy. They must come to weekly classes and will work with the person who eventually receives their dog. You must fill out an application, and a home visit and vet check will be scheduled to be sure all other animals in your house are fixed and up-to-date on medical treatment.

I would like to volunteer, but can't foster a dog, what else can I do?

We can always use additional volunteers in training class. We rely heavily on Bradley volunteers and we could use more volunteers during the summer months when students go home. We also can use volunteers to help with public relations events and to help with mailings. Families are welcome to volunteer.

Is there an age limit on who receives a dog?

No, but a child must be old enough to be able to handle a dog or work with a dog alongside a facilitator. We suggest someone 9 years old or above, but each child will be evaluated on an individual basis to determine if he or she is ready for a dog. There is also no limit on how old the recipient may be. Anyone who can benefit from our dogs is welcome to apply.

I have a disability, have a great dog, and I would like it to be certified as a service dog. Will you certify my dog?

No. We do not certify dogs that have not gone through our program. We spend a year evaluating and training our dogs. Our insurance requires that the dogs we certify go through our full program. We cannot determine in a few visits if a dog will be safe to have in a public setting, and placing a dog that may react negatively under stressful situations is a danger to the general public. We want to be sure every dog that wears a PGI vest has been properly trained.

My apartment building doesn't allow pets, so I want to get my dog certified as a service dog, or I want to take my dog on vacation with me and it needs to be a service dog. Can you certify my dog?

NO! ADA law is for those with disabilities trying to certify a family pet as a service dog when there is not a disability is illegal and individuals can be charged with fraud if a landlord or someone else would like to prosecute. This law is to protect people with disabilities, and we will not help someone take advantage of this law.

I have a 5 year old dog I can no longer take care of. Can I donate it to PGI?

We work with area shelters to find the best dogs for our program. The dogs we take into the program are between 10 months and 1.5 years old. It takes a full year to train the dogs, so we can't have older dogs just starting to train. We want the dog to be able to work for as long as possible. It can be difficult for the individual to retire his service dog to get another one, so we want young dogs to keep dogs and recipients together as long as possible.

What happens to dogs that do not make it as service dogs?

Occasionally, we have a dog fail to become a service or companion dog. This is usually due to health problems, or inconsistency in public. We will let you know the reason the dog did not pass the program. You can be added to a waiting list for one of those dogs. We do a home visit and vet check before placing the dog in another home. All other animals in the home must be spayed or neutered and up-to-date on medical care.

Paws Giving Independence reserves the right to deny service to an applicant for any reason, including, but not limited, to failure to meet the established criteria for receiving a service dog or lack of match between the dogs' skills and disibility of the applicant. PGI also reserves the right to remove a program service dog from a home at any time for mistreatment/neglect, failure to continue training, or an inappropriate match.

If you have additional questions that were not answered, you can call (309)-839-2754. We are an all-volunteer organization, so it may take a few days to get a response.