With the increasing demand for assistance dogs by individuals with physical and/or psychiatric disabilities (Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services, 2010), rapid growth is expected in the number of provider organizations that acquire, breed, train, and place dogs with individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, there is a lack of information about this burgeoning service industry. For example, little is known about how many providers exist, the populations served by these organizations, the breeds of dogs used, and the specific tasks the dogs are trained to perform. To address these and other questions, a web-based survey of assistance dog provider organizations was conducted.
This survey is part of Project ROVER (Returning Our Veterans to Employment and Reintegration) which is a research collaboration between the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and West Virginia University (WVU). The focus of Project ROVER is on the role that pets and assistance dogs may play in helping U.S. veterans reintegrate into civilian life and return to work. One objective is to obtain more information about how service dogs are aiding this process for veterans with disabilities.
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Penelope Baughman, PhD, Anne Foreman, PhD, Lindsay Parenti, MA, BCBA, Joseph R. Scotti, PhD, BCBA-D, B. Jean Meade, MD, DVM, MPH, PhD, Matthew E. Wilson, PhD, and Oliver Wirth, PhD