A well-trained service dog can make real and meaningful change in the life of someone with a disability, helping them to live actively and independently. Unfortunately, there are many individuals with disabilities who would benefit from a service dog but face significant obstacles in trying to obtain one. Their challenges can include organizations that only service specific populations, geographies, and dog breeds, as well as long waiting lists within these organizations due to an overwhelming need and few resources.
Atlas’ mission is to help eliminate these obstacles and help anyone who wants a service dog and who qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act to obtain a certified assistance dog. To fulfill this mission, Atlas addresses unmet needs by helping people obtain and train their own service dog without relying on an organization to provide them with a dog. Atlas is bringing a quality of training and rigorous certification standards to the individual that was previously available only through larger organizations.
Atlas' model supports the individual who wants to and is able to be an active part of training their own dog. Our Atlas Team Facilitators are volunteers who assist clients who are working to train their own service dog, either entirely on their own or with a trainer. The facilitators guide the team through their final six months of training, working with them to refine their skills, help develop the dog's skills in mitigating the client's disability, and prepare the team for the public access test.
We are also working to address a critical shortage of qualified service dog trainers through a comprehensive online program designed to prepare experienced dog trainers to train service dogs and work with people with a wide range of disabilities. Our courses provide training related to dogs, working with people with disabilities, and training for skills to mitigate the client's disability.