We are proud to announce that Atlas Assistance Dogs has earned candidacy with Assistance Dogs International (ADI)! ADI is a worldwide coalition of non-profit organizations that train assistance dogs. They have become a leading authority and have set standards and best practices within the international service dog industry, and we are proud to be one of the few owner-trainer organizations recognized as ADI candidate members.
Learn what this exciting news means for us, our clients, and what the next steps are towards becoming fully accredited with ADI.
What This Means for Atlas and our Clients
Becoming an ADI candidate opens many opportunities for us to grow, network, and collaborate with other service dog organizations worldwide, and make a positive impact in the lives of many people with disabilities and their dogs. We are joining a worldwide organization of assistance dog programs that share a mission of training and placing the highest quality of trained assistance dogs with individuals with disabilities to improve their quality of life. This is a first crucial step towards full ADI accreditation, which we will be able to apply for after a minimum of two years. Bringing access to this high standard to the individual owner-trainer has been one of our goals since founding Atlas, so this is a very exciting step.
To obtain ADI candidacy, Atlas submitted a thorough application and a number of documents, and went through an in-depth interview and review process. As we work toward certification, we must prove we meet or exceed ADI standards for Atlas’ administration, clients, dogs, trainers, and certification process. Some (but not all) of these ADI standards include:
- Operational stability
- Sound and ethical business practices
- Responsible use of resources
- Fair and equal policies and procedures for both staff and volunteers
- Treat clients equally and with respect and dignity
- Provide clients with a thorough and individualized educational process regarding all aspects of assistance dog partnership. In-person training must be included in the education process
- Programs train dogs to perform at least three specified assistive tasks for clients.
- Programs train dogs to be stable, well-behaved and unobtrusive in public. Dogs will not display aggression, eliminate inside, or show uncontrollable behavior in public.
- Trainers utilize humane training methods that are evidence-based and follow the least intrusive, minimally aversive principle to teach reliable behaviors on cues.
- Trainers are knowledgeable about the client’s disability and how a dog may be trained to mitigate this disability.
Full ADI Accreditation
If achieved, being an ADI accredited organization will open many doors for our clients. Our clients are owner-trainers. This means that they are training their own dog to become a service dog versus having a trained dog placed with them. While not all owner-trainers seek any type of certification, ADI recognized certification can be extremely important to some, yet is not readily available. As an ADI accredited organization, our clients will be recognized as such (this will only happen once we are fully accredited).
Because of the high quality of training demonstrated by an ADI organization, service dog teams which have graduated from such a program have international recognition. This makes international travel far more possible. Some airlines do not allow service dogs on board that do not come from an ADI organization. Some countries do not recognize service dogs that do not come from an ADI organization. ADI accreditation will remove significant barriers for our clients when traveling abroad and even allow us to consider supporting clients in countries outside of the US.
Veterans and Active Military
Veterans often qualify for more benefits covering the costs of their service dog if they are working with an ADI accredited organization. For active military members, most base commanders require that dogs be certified by an ADI accredited organization.
A service dog team graduated from an ADI organization has demonstrated the highest quality of training. They can feel confident and proud in their skills and the skills of their dog to work together as well as the ongoing support they will get from the ADI organization. Training a service dog is no easy feat. Reaching this standard is a great accomplishment!
We will continue to practice all standards to meet ADI requirements and remain in good standing. We now focus on the work necessary to meet the additional requirements of an accredited vs candidate organization. We can apply for full accreditation in a minimum of two years and in up to five, and we must remain in good standing.
We are immensely proud of what Atlas has accomplished in its six years of life, as we have been working hard to democratize access to service dogs for people with disabilities and owner-trainers. The work we do is made possible by many incredible volunteers and supporters as well as our dedicated client-dog teams. We cannot thank our community and celebrate our clients enough. We are so excited to see where this road takes us!
About Atlas Assistance Dogs
Atlas Assistance Dogs is a non-profit organization that fundamentally expands access to assistance dogs. We support people with disabilities to train and certify their own service dog using positive, ethical training methods. At Atlas, we believe anyone who would benefit from a qualified assistance dog should be able to have one.
We work with people with a wide range of disabilities who wish to train their own service dog and offer a comprehensive Academy for professional trainers wanting to become service dog trainers. For more information about Atlas’ Client Certification program or other training services, please visit www.atlasdog.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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