The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs does not train service animals for placement with veterans living with disabilities. The Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program provides grants to service animal programs who train service dogs and who provide equine therapy to veterans. Read more below on the difference between guide, service, and support animals and to learn about the MD Veterans Service Animal Program. If you are interested in applying for a service animal, please contact one of the organizations participating in this program.
Guide and Service Dog Information and Resources
What are guide dogs?
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, guide dogs are trained to lead the blind or vision impaired. The dog acts as a pilot to direct its owner in a straight line unless directed to turn, while avoiding obstacles in all directions.
What are service dogs?
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, a service dog is a dog trained to do specific tasks for a person that he or she cannot do because of a disability. Service dogs can pick things up, guide a person with vision problems, or help someone who falls or loses balance easily. For example, a service dog can help a blind person walk down the street or get dangerous things out of the way when someone is having a seizure.
Protecting someone, giving emotional support, or being a companion do not qualify a dog to be a service animal. To be a service dog, a dog must go through training. Usually the dog is trained to:
- Do things that are different from natural dog behavior
- Do things that the handler (dog owner) cannot do because of a disability
- Learn to work with the new handler in ways that help manage the owner’s disability
Because the handler depends on the service dog’s help, service dogs are allowed to go to most public places the handler goes. This is the case even if it is somewhere pet dogs usually cannot go, like restaurants or on airplanes. But there are a few exceptions. For example, service dogs can be asked to leave if they are not behaving well.
To learn more visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation and Prosthetic website.
Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program and Fund
During the 2017 Maryland Legislative Session, Senate Bill 441 created the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program and Fund in the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill was approved by Governor Hogan May 4 and took effect July 1, 2017.
In 2019, Senate Bill 105 altered the definition of nonprofit training entity for purposes of the program to include entities which provide equine therapy to eligible veterans. The bill was approved by Governor Hogan and took effect June 1, 2019.
The Program established the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program Fund in the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. Donations to the fund are disbursed by the Department to participating organizations to reimburse for costs associated with training and placing a service dog with a military veteran. Disbursements will also be made, assuming funding is available, to equine therapy programs serving veterans.
Are you a veteran seeking a service animal or equine therapy?
contact one of these organizations to learn more and to apply
SERVICE ANIMAL PROGRAMS:
Hero Dogs, Inc.
located in Brookeville, Maryland, “improves quality of life for our nation’s heroes by raising, training, and placing service dogs
and other highly skilled canines, free of charge with lifetime support of the partnerships.”
Learn more about Hero Dogs, Inc. here.
Warrior Canine Connection (WCC),
located in Boyds, Maryland, utilizes a “Mission Based Trauma Recovery model to help recovering
Warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other”.
Learn more about WCC’s program here.
Fidos for Freedom, Inc.,
located in Laurel, MD, “enhances the quality of life for people in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan community
by providing specially trained hearing dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs”.
Learn more about Fidos for Freedom, Inc. here.
EQUINE THERAPY PROGRAMS:
Bridges at Worthmore
located in Worton, “committed to setting the standard of professional excellence for how horses and other therapies enrich, empower, and improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities.”
Learn more about Bridges at Worthmore here.
Taking the Lead, Inc.
located in Freeland, “using the energy and therapeutic power of animals to meet goals and inspire independence.”
Learn more about Taking the Lead, Inc. here.
The Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Center
located in Glenwood, “dedicated to providing therapeutic support services to its special clients, young and old, in an all inclusive environment.”
Learn more about The Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Center here.
Are you an organization seeking to participate in the program-
Basic qualifications to participate in the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program include:
Tax exempt by the IRS (501(c)3)
Trains service dogs for use by Maryland veterans or
Provides equine therapy and is a professional accredited or certified program (PATH Premier Member Center Accreditation or Eaqala Certified)
Selected by the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs to participate
If you have questions related to the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program,
please contact Dana Burl, Outreach Director
EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2021 THE MARYLAND VETERANS SERVICE ANIMAL PROGRAM AND FUND WILL PAUSE REIMBURSEMENTS FOR SERVICES. THE PROGRAM WILL RE-OPEN IN AUGUST.
MORE INFORMATION TO FOLLOW.
Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program Forms:
For individuals or organizations seeking to make a donation to the program:
Donations are accepted by check or online by credit card.
Checks must be payable to the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program Fund and mailed to:
Dana Burl, Director
Outreach and Advocacy Program
Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs
16 Francis Street, Fourth Floor
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
**PLEASE NOTE ON THE CHECK IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS, IF NOT NOTED YOUR NAME WILL BE REFLECTED AS A DONOR ON THE MDVA WEBSITE**
Credit card donations may be made by going to:
July 2017 to September 2018 Donors