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 Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program.
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. See COMAR Regulations
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.
FY22 Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program Grant Awardees
Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding Program
Port Deposit, Maryland
Equine Therapy for Veterans
The grant will address the mental health, including post traumatic stress disorder,
of veterans in Cecil and Harford Counties. In addition, Freedom Hills will work with
veterans to assist them to successfully reintegrate into society and into their families.
Lifeline Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc.
MD 2022 LETS Program
The grant will greatly increase the ability to provide mental health services
to veterans who are suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and suicidal thoughts.
Promise Landing Farm, Inc.
Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Therapeutic Riding for Resilience
The grant will address veteran mental health
through providing equine-assisted services, primarily therapeutic riding lessons,
to veterans in underserved communities.
Warrior Canine Connection (WCC)
Service Dog Placement 2022
The grant will enhance operational support through acquisition
of a learning management software system (LMS)
for use by veterans, staff, and volunteers.
FY22 Grant Application Deadline Has Passed
Donations to the Fund 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:
Questions related to the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program can be directed to:
Dana Burl, Outreach Director, MDVA
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.