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                                                                              Acquiring a Puppy

OVERVIEW

The diagnosis of autism is a life altering experience for the whole family. The chart below defines the five components to maximize your child’s potential.

The placement of a dog enables the child and family to increase their mobility and socialization as a family. The right puppy can be a valuable companion in the life of a child with autism, regardless of the challenges he or she faces.

Once Project Chance determines that a child and his or her family are a good fit for a puppy, we develop an individualized training program. Families come to our training facility for scheduled sessions during which, we work on cognitive exercises, health and safety assessments, and social skill improvements. Additionally, we train a child and the family to optimize dog-handling skills and the care required to address the feeding and grooming needs of the dog.

Project Chance maintains a relationship with the families and dogs it places for the life of the dog.

It Starts with a Phone Call

The first question we ask is, ‘why do you want a service dog?’

During this call, Project Chance learns about the family structure, number of children, other pets, work schedules, and the daily routine. At least one adult must have the flexibility required to properly care for the puppy.

In-Person Meeting

For this one-hour session, the family comes to the Project Chance campus to meet with a team member. Anyone who interacts with the family on a regular basis at the home and would be involved with the puppy is encouraged to attend. While the family talks with us, the child walks around and is observed when a few of the puppies are brought into the room. How the child interacts with a puppy, determines whether he or she would benefit from the assistance of a service dog.

If there is a positive interaction between child and puppies, the specifics of the Americans with Disabilities Act are defined and then the group goes to a restaurant, grocery store and retail environment with a dog currently in training. This allows families to see the etiquette expected of a Project Chance dog when it is in the community and the benefits of the dog.

The Home Visit

During this appointment, we evaluate the location, size, layout, other pets and how the house is maintained. If necessary, recommendations are made to ensure a safe environment for the puppy. You will know at the end of this visit whether your family is a good match for a Project Chance puppy.

The Application

Once our staff determines that a service dog will benefit your child and the family, we develop a training plan based on the child’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) that outlines the current educational/social/ cognitive progress from a clinical or educational institution.

After the application (including a $100 non-refundable application fee) is received, the family begins a probationary period, which ends when the dog is transferred to the family. The transfer time varies and depends on the dog’s maturity, family’s ability to handle and achieve all of the outlined objectives, and evaluation and recommendations from the trainers.

Requirements and Commitment

  • A commitment to meet regularly with trainers and other children and dog teams for social, behavioral and recreational activities.
  • Families must sign a waiver that gives permission for the publication of photos and stories about your child and his or her dog.
  • As a regional agency, families should be within driving distance of the Project Chance training center to facilitate the access to the numerous required training sessions. Project Chance retains the flexibility to place dogs outside this area depending on the family’s individual support services.

We Are Different

 At the age of 10-weeks old, a Project Chance puppy is paired with a child. During the training period, the puppy lives at the Project Chance campus. When the trainer determines the family has accomplished the basic skills of handling and caring for the puppy, an overnight visit is arranged.

The only home a puppy knows is its new family’s home and the Project Chance training center. This allows a puppy to become familiar with the smells, routine, and layout of its new home. It also allows the puppy and child to continually reinforce the training process designed by Project Chance and accelerate the bond and benefits of the partnership.

Project Chance​ 95512 Arbor Lane, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034 - (904) 491-0414 - info@projectchance.com

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