To answer some of your questions:
What percentage of proceeds and donations go to the Veterans and dogs?
100% We are not paid or reimbursed, we are entirely volunteer staffed and everything goes back into the program to care for and train the Service Dogs to in turn take care of their Veterans.
How does a Combat Veteran qualify for a service dog from R.W.B. Dog T.A.G.S.?
If a Combat Veteran is in need of a Service Dog, we have to know the Veteran's diagnosis and what the doctor believes the Service Dog needs to assist with. After speaking with the Veteran, we search through available dogs for the most fitting candidates. We provide a Service Dog or a dog being rehabilitated for free, provided the Veteran has a legal prescription for a Service Dog from the VA. We only accept referrals from the VA directly or the Wounded Warrior Program. They must have been Infantry or front line combat; under extremely rare circumstances we'll make an exception to this rule. We will not accept applications for ESA or Therapy dogs. We train for VA mandatory service dog tasks. We have been accepted by the Assistance Dog International (ADI), however, due to their unwillingness to waive a $500 a year renewal fee, we declined their acceptance / endorsement. Veterans Administration Chief of Staff waived their requirement of ADI approval on our behalf due to how our program runs and our success rate with them.
What if a Veteran can't afford the costs of dog care?
For each of our Veterans not able to financially support their own dog we pay for everything for the entirety of the Service Dog' lives. R.W.B. Dog T.A.G.S assumes food costs, all the training gear, yearly health checks and start up package, such as a bed, crate, if needed, along with the training and service vests - Canine Good Citizen and PAT (Public Access Training / Testing). We will aid any homeless Veteran in any way we can, same as for a Veteran who already has a dog. The exception to this is we are not legally allowed to work with dogs coming from a breeder or another service dog organization. We will also provide pet deposits, as we have done with US.VETS.
Where do the dogs come from?
As a program, we specialize in rehabbing hard to adopt dogs turning them into PTSD - TBI service dogs. NO breeders or other training schools dogs. From the possible abuse or neglect the dog has endured we are able to transform their coping process into a signal / service task which is unlike anything any other dog can provide. Their backgrounds are distressing but their outcomes prove there are such a thing as miracles. We do prefer younger dogs as they will have a longer time with the Veterans. It's heartbreaking for everyone involved, especially the Veteran, to lose them too quickly.
What if the Veteran needs help outside of training days?
We are a very tight knit group and although we meet on Saturdays for training, trouble shooting, and comradery. Our trainers will make house calls if necessary and will answer phone whether it's 2am or 2 pm if there is a Veteran or dog having an issue.
Where do the trainers come from?
The trainers are Veterans who have been put through DOGTAGS School where they take 1 to 3 years of dog training lessons and practice individually and supervised, then orally tested, and lastly required to pass the final practicum exam by being tested with a rehab turned service dog. The variation in the length of training is dependent on their life circumstances and what time allowances they can make.
How can you be sure the dogs are taken care of if the Veterans don't attend training sessions?
Because we are concerned with both the Veteran's and the dog's wellbeing we have mandatory and surprise home visits during the initial fostering phase or if Veteran's start missing training. At anytime if we feel our dogs are in danger or in anyway not in healthy situations, we will pull the dog immediately. We have a non-negotiable pull clause in the contract between each Veteran and R.W.B. Dog T.A.G.S.
Our vetting process is fine tuned and we have had few instances of this being necessary.
Additionally, by ADA standards each Service Dog has to be trained to provide specific services. If the training is not completed the Veteran can be held liable by law, subject to fines, jail time, and possible loss of Veteran's Rights.
What if a Veteran requires treatment and can't care for their dog?
We offer foster care for Veteran's dogs as they go through treatment. This eases the stress and worry for the Veteran and helps the Service Dog maintain their training and quality of life.
What if the unfortunate happens and the Veteran passes, what happens to their Service Dog?
This is determined on a case by case basis. In some instances the dog and the Veteran's family firmly bonded and they desire to keep the dog as it is family and this is what will happen. For others there may be no family, so we will foster the dog as it goes through its own grieving process before we would consider trying to place the dog with another Veteran. Each situation is treated individually and with great care for all involved.
Why do we prefer rescue dogs?
Many shelter dogs have the natural abilities to perform the same service task expensive service bred dogs are trained to perform. In our years of experience, we have found rescue dogs hold a special quality of devotion and bonding you cannot get from others. We wholeheartedly believe we are providing a program that Saves Two Lives At A Time.
What about breed discrimination?
Breed Discrimination Will NOT be Tolerated.
Spay / Neuter Policies
We support spay/neuter laws. We do not promote or allow breeding of any dogs in our program. We reserve the right to not provide any assistance if the Veteran or owner is not willing to spay/neuter their dog. By adhering to spay and neuter laws we can aid in controlling pet over-population, reduce the high mortality rate of females trying to deliver, and reduce the chances of dogs suffering from Pyometra or testicular cancer. We want to guarantee that these issues are prevented and stand firm on this policy. We will immediately terminate any assistance to anyone found breeding their pets or anyone who refuses the free spay/neuter service we offer.
What does R.W.B. Dog T.A.G.S. stand for?
Red White Blue Dog Training After Government Service, which is quite the mouthful so for everyday purposes we shorten it down to R.W.B. Dog T.A.G.S or RWB.
Thank you for you interest in R.W.B. Dog T.A.G.S.