I’ve received a number of important questions over the past months and plan to post the responses in addition to the private e-mails and comment responses I’ve already made. I’d like to start with a query/comment I received yesterday. It’s not uncommon to confuse these two organizations so I wanted to set the record straight.
While there are great ideas from ADI, unfortunately getting a Service Dog from an ADI accredited School also gives no guarantees. I have personally seen dogs from ADI accredited Schools out in public that could not pass a CGC never mind their public access test. ADI is very politically motivated and the ones with big bucks and funding get their indiscretions swept under the rug. Some of their policies in regards to Service Dogs have absolutely no relevance to the performance of a Service Dog,its health or public safety. ie. Your Service Dog cannot be on a Raw diet. (If they were allowed the Dog food manufactures would not give them the money they do) to me, that is more of a politically money motivated organization than an organization that has the dog, the public and its disabled peoples interests in mind first. The Largest Service Dog organization in this country is NOT an ADI accredited school BY CHOICE. Ever wonder why?
Thanks for writing. I think you may have two different organizations confused and I’d like to step through each point raised.
Assistance Dogs International (ADI) does not have a policy regarding raw protein diets. Pet Partners, formerly known as The Delta Society, however, does. Pet Partners and their affiliated organizations are for therapy animals and not service animals. Please see the post dated December 31, 2011 for more information about the difference between these two types of working animals.
Pet Partners policy caused quite an uproar when it was first announced. Pet Partners had recently received a large grant from Purina. In addition, at least one member of their board who voted in favor of their new raw protein diet policy was associated with Purina. As you can imagine, this raised many questions regarding the motivation behind the policy. Pet Partners pointed to studies that had been published regarding the increase of shedding of pathogenic bacteria to back up their new policy but naysayers pointed out that these studies did not require the same infection control parameters that Pet Partners already had in place. Many of the naysayers felt these parameters eliminated the concerns. Some Pet Partners affiliated organizations chose to leave the group and start their own program with their own liability insurance coverage. Pet Partners is the only national therapy animal organization to have this policy so if you do not agree with it, you can always join one of the other national therapy animal organizations (Therapy Dogs International (TDI), Therapy Dogs, Incorporated (TD Inc), Paws for Friendship, Love on a Leash and The Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs) or a local therapy animal organization.
While Pet Partners does have service animal information on their site, they are not as involved with service animal work in as many ways as they used to be when Susan Duncan, RN was in charge of the division. (She is responsible for the vast majority of the information on their site regarding service animals. It’s very well written and I highly recommend all read it!) For example, about a decade ago, Pet Partners formed a committee of top service dog trainers in the United States to work on standards for training, the result of which can also be found on their site (PDF). This standard is not a requirement but a recommendation. It is not the same thing as ADI’s standards nor is it a requirement to follow these standards to be mentioned on the Pet Partners Service Animal Trainers and Training Programs List (PDF). Some members of this list are ADI-member programs and some are not. Pet Partners makes it very clear that “[i]nclusion on [their] website does not constitute an endorsement by [Pet Partners] nor does omission imply disapproval.” Being on this list is not a matter of being a member of their program. The list is solely for informational purposes. Pet Partners is no longer involved in the service animal community in this fashion and now seems to be mostly focused on client education and lobbying.
[NB: There may be an overlap between the members of Pet Partners Service Dog Standards Committee and those who helped establish ADI’s standards. One would think there would be an overlap then between the standards. I do know someone who was involved with both and would be happy to ask her if this is of interest.]
Regarding the largest services dog organizations in the US, as far as I know, the two largest are Guide Dogs for the Blind and The Seeing Eye. Both are ADI members. I believe that the two largest non-guide dog service dog organizations in the US are Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) and Paws with a Cause. Again, both of these are ADI members. For a complete list of ADI-member organizations, please see ADI’s Member Programs List & Links.
Regarding your concerns about the training dogs from ADI-member programs receive, if you see aberrant behavior, more often than not, it’s due to poor handler skills and not the dog’s training. Of course, if this goes on long enough, it can affect the dog’s training! Regardless, it shouldn’t happen and needs to be corrected. I’d recommend contacting the ADI-member program that trained the dog instead of approaching the handler. The handler may not realize there’s a problem and may take offense at someone unknown to them correcting them. You can approach the handler and politely ask which program trained the dog if the dog does not have the program’s emblem on its cape. Programs take reports seriously. They want to know if there is a problem so they can work with the team to correct it. When contacting the program, please be sure to include as much information as you can remember, for example:
- Dog: breed, size, collar
- Person: name (if known), height, weight, disability (if known) any other distinguishing characteristics
- Location: address or building name, date and time of day, anything unusual going on? (crowded for a sale, 8 ft Easter Bunny, etc.)
- Occurrence: describe what happened and why you thought it was inappropriate behavior (e.g., maybe the dog barked to warn of an oncoming seizure but the barking went on for 5 minutes)
- Video: if you have a smartphone, take video and send it
Please keep to the facts and avoid making personal attacks and remember that the more factual information you are able to provide, the better able the program will be able to respond. If you are able to provide location and dates, the program may even be able to talk to staff at the location. Believe me, if there was a problem, the personnel will be able to remember and often are happy to help put a stop to the behavior! If you happen to have a smartphone, please take a video of the incident if you can. It’s not only helpful for the program but for the handler as well. Sometimes, handlers (service dog or otherwise) don’t realize what handling issues they have until they see it for themselves.
If the program doesn’t respond, if you see the same behavior continue to occur or if you see many teams from the same program have issues, please contact ADI. Again, be sure to include as much information as you can. I’d recommend sending a copy of your correspondence to them.
Regarding the CGC, it seems odd that a dog the could pass the Public Access Test (PAT) and not pass the CGC test given the amount of overlap between the two. In addition, the PAT requires more from the team than the CGC and takes place in an uncontrolled situation whereas the CGC takes place in a controlled situation. To give you an idea of how much overlap there is, I created the table below to show how the PAT compares to the CGC. If an ADI PAT item has no bulleted items bolded, it means all of the bulleted items apply. Granted, t’s not a perfect match but I think you’ll understand why I find it odd that a team could pass the PAT and not the CGC. Anything is possible, however! One other thing I’d like to add is that even though there is a great overlap, some ADI-member organizations require their dogs to pass the CGC in addition to the PAT. The fact is that the CGC is a more recognized test than the PAT, which can make access easier at times even though it shouldn’t have anything to do with it.
I’d also be surprised if a team that passed the Pet Partners or actually any of the national therapy animal organizations couldn’t pass the CGC since most of the tests are based off of the CGC and some offer CGC certification as part of passing.
I hope this helps clarify the issues you’ve raised. Again, I suspect you were thinking of Pet Partners (formerly known as The Delta Society) and not Assistance Dogs International. Please let me know if you have any questions about this.
|AKC CGC Test Items||ADI PAT Items|
|Takes place in a controlled environment, setup by the evaluator.||Takes place in uncontrolled environments, such as shopping malls, restaurants and hospitals.|
|Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
||Test 7: Downs on command
|Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
||Test 6: Sits on command
Test 7: Downs on command
|Test 3: Appearance and grooming
||No equivalent test.
This task isn’t specific to service work but is probably worthwhile to add for the sake of the veterinarians who will take care of these dogs.
|Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
Test 5: Walking through a crowd
|Test 2: Approaching the building
Test 4: Heeling through the building
Test 12: Controlled exit
|Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
While on a 20′ leash, the dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog.
|Test 1: Controlled unload out of vehicle
Test 3: Controlled entry through a doorway
Test 6: Sits on command
Test 7: Downs on command
Test 13: Controlled load into vehicle
|Test 7: Coming when called
||Test 5: Six foot recall on lead
|Test 8: Reaction to another dog
||Test 1: Controlled unload out of vehicle
|Test 9: Reaction to distraction
||Test 2: Approaching the building
Test 6: Sits on command
Test 8: Noise distractions
Test 12: Controlled exit
|Test 10: Supervised separation
||Test 11: Dog taken by another person
|N/A||Test 9: Restaurant
|N/A||Test 10: Off lead
|N/A||Test 14: Team relationship
|N/A||Test 15: Tasks (optional)
ADI requires that all dogs trained by ADI-member programs be able to perform at least three tasks that mitigate the handler’s disability. Federal law only requires one. This is not an official part of ADI’s PAT but some member programs include it as do many owner-trained dogs (who handlers have applied for IAADP membership) to show that the dog is compliant with the law.