FAQs

July 21st, 2012

Here is some helpful information about the process of acquiring an Assistance Dog from Hawaii CAN. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

How do I start the process of applying for a service dog?

Determine what type of service dog best fits your needs and lifestyle, then complete the appropriate application in its entirety and ask your medical and personal references (if
required) to complete their part of the application. Once the information is complete, send HAWAII CAN the application and supporting documents along with your $25 non-refundable application fee.

Where do I send my completed application, supporting documents, and application fee?

Only completed applications will be reviewed by HAWAII CAN. Please mail your completed application to:

Hawaii CAN
ATTN: CLIENT SERVICES
P.O. Box 831
Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744

What happens after I send my application into HAWAII CAN?

Once your application for a service dog is complete (including the application form, and the medical reference form and personal reference form), we will contact you to come to the office for an interview and/or we schedule an in-home evaluation. The results of those meetings will determine whether or not we will add your name to the list of possible service dog recipients. We ask your permission to videotape this interview so we can get a sense of your capabilities and living situation. The videotape also allows us to revisit your needs as we evaluate possible canine matches.

How does HAWAII CAN evaluate if someone is eligible to have a service dog placed with him/her?

The decision for a person, family, or facility to bring a service dog into their lives requires a serious and sustained commitment. While the mission of HAWAII CAN is to provide as many people as possible with healthy, safe service dogs, we are also committed to making sure that HAWAII CAN dogs are placed in safe, healthy environments and that their training is maintained after the dog leaves our care.

Questions HAWAII CAN will ask you include the following:

What are the client’s needs and challenges? What kind of help does a person applying for a service dog need? Just like people, dogs come with a wide range of physical capabilities, personalities and interests. In order to make the best match, HAWAII CAN staff and handlers need to have a clear understanding of the kind of assistance that an applicant needs. Application forms and interviews will include many questions intended to determine exactly how a dog can be most helpful.

Will the service dog be an indoor dog? While many people are accustomed to keeping outdoor dogs, service dogs have been bred and trained to form strong bonds to people. When dogs are routinely kept outside, it is unlikely that this special bond between a dog and his/her handler can truly develop to its fullest capacity. HAWAII CAN will not place a dog if it will be kept outdoors for any appreciable length of time.

Is there a way for the dog to get adequate exercise each day? When service dogs are placed, they are typically 2 years of age and have a good deal of energy. If dogs (especially young dogs) do not receive regular opportunities to work and exercise, they can quickly develop behavior problems from boredom and/or gain excessive weight.

Is there a fence or containment system for the dog? It is important for service dogs to be able to exercise and/or relax when they are not working for you. An off-leash dog that is not fenced or contained can be hit by a car and/or establish a pattern of roaming which carries its own dangerous consequences.

Who will take care of the dog in the event that the primary handler is not able to? Some individuals who have disabilities find that their strength and/or symptoms vary considerably from day-to-day or week-to-week. It is important to have a back-up plan in place in the event that the primary recipient of the dog is not able to care for the dog.

Does the person or family have the financial means to care for a service dog? While estimates vary on the annual cost to provide food, toys, and proper veterinary care for a dog, the cost can range between $900-$1200 a year.

Are there other animals in the household or facility? If so, how might introducing a service dog impact them? Have other dogs been introduced before? Some dogs and cats can be socially sensitive and not all will adapt readily to newcomers. While we do place dogs in homes with other animals, it is an undertaking that deserves careful evaluation.

Other questions to ask yourself. Does anyone in the house or facility smoke? If so, how often? Are there other members of the household and, if so, how do they feel about a service dog? Are they supportive? Are they willing to help with the care and training of the dog (e.g., trimming dog’s nails, grooming, taking dog to vet as needed, picking up dog waste)? Does anyone have allergies to dogs?

How much does it cost for me to receive a service dog from HAWAII CAN?

HAWAII CAN requires a placement fee of $2500.00. This one-time fee must be paid in full by your first day of Team Training. This $2500.00 fee includes follow-up support for the life of your partnership with that service dog.

Any additional costs associated with attending interviews, the Client Call In and the mandatory Team Training session are your responsibility and include transportation to the training facility, hotel, meals outside of training hours, and attendant care, if needed.

Is there any funding assistance that is offered?

HAWAII CAN does not offer a scholarship program to offset the cost of a service dog. HAWAII CAN does, however, have a fundraising program in place to assist applicants with raising funds leading up to a dog match. We encourage clients to begin the saving and fundraising process as soon as HAWAII CAN notifies them that their application is accepted.

How long is the wait to receive a HAWAII CAN dog?

The length of time from application to being matched with a dog depends on several factors, including the following:

Applications are reviewed and evaluated in the order in which they are received. However, because we strive to make the best possible match between the service dog and the client, placement schedules will vary. Making smart and appropriate matches means we must evaluate and compare the structure, temperament, motivations and strengths of the dog with the lifestyle, personality, and assistance needs of the recipient. Thus, we may not always keep to strict first come – first served policy.

The average applicant waits between 18 and 24 months to be placed with a dog. Please remember that this is only an estimate and this time could be shorter or longer. Applicants will be contacted regularly on their application status. Applicants are encouraged to stay involved with HAWAII CAN after their application is accepted and during the waiting period.

After HAWAII CAN matches me to a dog, what happens?

Once you are notified that you’ve been added to the list of possible service dog recipients, HAWAII CAN begins its work of identifying a dog to fit your needs. If we identify a dog that we feel may be a match, we’ll arrange a home visit, and invite you to a Client Call In to spend some time with the handlers getting an idea of what working with a service dog will be like. Once your match with a dog is final, you’ll be required to attend Team Training, where you and your new partner will learn to work together.

Depending on your type of placement, your training may be one week long or two weeks long. After Team Training concludes, you and your service dog return home and begin your partnership. Complete payment of the $2500.00 placement fee is required before you attend Team Training.

What happens after Team Training when my dog and I return home?

Regular updates and follow-up are required from each client for the first several weeks. HAWAII CAN retains ownership of the service dog you have been placed with for the first year of the partnership. Provided the partnership is working well at the end of one year’s time, HAWAII CAN transfers the dog’s ownership over to you.

It is always our goal that you and your HAWAII CAN dog have a long and productive working relationship as a team after Team Training. Should a need arise, we will be available to help you problem solve assistant dog related situations after Team Training. Also, each team will need to be recertified on a yearly basis. This will ensure that you and your assistant dog are continuing to be a productive and safe team.

We use this system of follow-up after teams graduate from Team Training.

Probationary Period: To help us gauge how the partnership is progressing, graduates are expected to participate in regular check-ins regarding their HAWAII CAN dog. Our service dog placements are conducted on a 1-year probationary period. Should issues arise in the partnership during the first year, HAWAII CAN will assess the situation and either work with the team to remedy the issue or match a different canine to the client.

Recertification: HAWAII CAN teams that have public access (i.e., assistant, facilitated or facility placements) are required to be recertified annually. Individuals who move out of the State of Hawaii following graduation assume responsibility for demonstrating that their team is continuing to work in a safe manner. These arrangements are made in consultation with HAWAII CAN staff on a case-by-case basis.

Continuing Education: HAWAII CAN requires that, in addition to undergoing yearly recertification, all teams that have public access must participate in at least 3 continuing education sessions throughout the first year and at least 1 in each successive year. These continuing education sessions will ensure that you and your service dog continue to be productive and safe teams.

Retirement: Finally, when the time comes and your HAWAII CAN service dog is readyto retire, we hope that you will consider HAWAII CAN for your successor dog!

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