Raising service dogs for Southeastern Guide Dogs doesn’t require experience, but there are some strings attached
Leslie Shepard, Director of Puppy Raising Services at Southeastern Guide Dogs, says volunteers do not need a background in training dogs; “We teach our puppy raisers everything they need to know in order to be successful in this role.”
Puppy raisers are first asked to take and pass a six unit online pre-placement class before their application is passed along to the local area coordinator and before they even attend their first meeting.
They are then invited to attend in-person meetings where assessments determine if candidates:
- Are able to handle a large breed dog
- Demonstrate that they understand and can commit to our raising protocols
- Demonstrate that they have skill level to handle a puppy of any temperament/size
- Demonstrate that they will commit to ongoing meetings
After that, potential raisers must pass a home inspection and in-home orientation demonstrating:
- Safe home environment
- Financial stability
- Family commitment to following our protocols and to the endeavor
Next, wanna-be puppy raisers must pass a reference/background check. If raisers are employed, they must have permission from their employer to bring the puppy to work.
Finally, before a puppy is placed, SGD asks the family to “puppy sit” a puppy to ensure they understand that this is a 24/7 commitment of time, energy, and money.
The process takes 4-6 weeks or longer, depending on the applicant’s progress.