After WWII, the Guide Dog Foundation was founded to provide returning veterans with guide dogs and the associated training at no cost. With advancements in canine training, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. created America’s VetDogs in 2003. This new charity’s goal was to provide dogs to wounded veterans to address their specific needs and help them live a life without boundaries. Three years later, VetDogs became a separate 501(c)(3) corporation and continues to serve those who have served.
The cost of breeding, raising, training, and placing an assistance dog can be as high as $50,000. However, thanks to donations from private individuals, corporations, foundations, and businesses, VetDogs is able to provide their services at no charge to the applicant. If eligible, they are brought to VetDogs’ 10-acre campus in Smithtown, New York for a two-week training program. Small class sizes allow for more individualized training for students to bond with their dogs and learn as a team. Instruction is provided by a dedicated cadre of the charity’s certified trainers.
VetDogs provides different dogs and training for different needs. They can train and match applicants with service dogs, guide dogs, PTSD service dogs, seizure response dogs, and hearing dogs. Moreover, VetDogs provides military facility dogs to help wounded active duty service members during their recovery at military or VA medical centers. The application for a dog can be filled out online on VetDogs’ website.
VetDogs was accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International in 2013, becoming the second U.S. assistance dog school to earn the accreditation; the Guide Dog Foundation was the first. As a charity, VetDogs earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar/Candid and is recognized by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance as an accredited charity, meeting the 20 “Standards for Charity Accountability.”