More Service Dogs to Help with Disabilities, PTSD

The province has introduced five new, qualified organizations that can train, test and provide service dogs to Albertans with disabilities and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Minister Sabir and MLA Rod Loyola meet with representatives of Alberta’s new qualified list of service dog providers.

One of the new groups trains PTSD service dogs to support first responders and military personnel. All of the organizations were tested to ensure they meet Alberta’s training standards and can provide dogs that meet the unique needs of those who require their support.

The Service Dogs Qualifications Regulation, which came into effect in April 2017, lays out provincial standards, allowing more schools to train qualified service dogs. Under the new rules, people with self-trained service dogs can also have their dogs trained or assessed to become qualified.

“Qualified service dogs are dedicated to helping people navigate daily life and, in some cases, even save their lives. I am proud to improve access to service dogs for persons with disabilities and, for the first time, those affected by PTSD. I look forward to seeing more service dogs in our communities.”

~Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services

“Having more qualified schools is great news for Alberta. This will help meet the demand and empower more people with independence, freedom and access to their communities.”

~John Dugas, owner, Courageous Companions, qualified Alberta service dog organization

Like all service dogs, PTSD dogs are trained to respond to the unique needs of their handler. This includes tasks such as interrupting repetitive or self-harming behaviour, reminding the handler to take medication, retrieving objects and guiding a person away from stressful situations.

“I am pleased by today’s announcement. Service dogs can substantially improve the lives of military veterans and anyone suffering from injuries such as PTSD.”

~MLA Nicole Goehring, Government of Alberta’s Liaison to the Canadian Armed Forces

“I’ve waited a long time to have a qualified service dog. Having more service dog schools and more opportunities to obtain a service dog will change many people’s lives for the better.”

~Adrienne Webb, Alberta PTSD service dog user 

The government awarded $250,000 in grants to support qualified organizations with training, testing and providing service dogs. The funding will also help individuals who want to ensure their self-trained dogs meet Alberta’s new standards.

Who is on the list

  • Organizations on the qualified list will train and assess service dogs based on the province’s new training standards in the Service Dogs Qualifications Regulation.
  • Members on Alberta’s new qualified list are:
    • Hope Heels Service Dog Team Building Institute: producer and assessor of service dogs in Edmonton, Calgary and Grande Prairie
    • Canadian Canine Training Corporation: producer, assessor and training in the Edmonton area
    • Very Special Paws, Camrose and District Victim Services Society: producer, assessor and training in Camrose, Edmonton and Calgary areas
    • Red Dog Training Solutions: training and assessment in Edmonton and Red Deer area
    • Courageous Companions Incorporated: producer for PTSD service dogs for military personnel and first responders throughout Alberta
  • Existing qualified organizations
    • Dogs with Wings: producer, assessor and training in Edmonton area
    • Pacific Assistance Dogs Society: puppy-raising services in Calgary
  • Other organizations across Alberta that produce, train and assess service dogs are encouraged to apply to be on the qualified list.

Quick facts

  • To be qualified, a dog must meet certain standards regarding skills and behaviour to ensure it meets the needs of its owner and can safely interact with the public.
  • Qualified service dogs can typically be identified by the harness and equipment that are unique to each service dog organization.
  • It is a criminal offence to deny access to any public place to individuals who use qualified service dogs.