Date: June 2011
To all Service Dog trainers and organizations, big and small.
RE: standards, certification, government involvement…..
My name is Ken Lyons and I’m the director for a small service dog school in Florida, a few small schools and myself are tackling this issue by helping to create a uniform Service Dog Code, that individual trainers, handlers and organizations choose to adopt, sort of like a “contractor who is a member of the BBB and follows the building code,” vs “the handy-man that is neither.”
There is a growing under current in the SD community about the impact of fakers and the lack of standards for OT’s and small schools. It’s my belief and many others in the field, that it’s just a matter of time before the GOV decides to do something about it.
Several schools have decided, if the GOV is going to take over, we’d at least like to make a union that puts all the schools and trainers on the same page and have the GOV using our more friendlier book versus…the gov creating it’s own standards.
This is not the first standard for service dogs, several have been made, most are political and some are expensive to use. This is an attempt to create an open standard, which means EVERYONE can see all the rules and can freely adopt them, even without being a member, just like a person can build something ‘to code’ even if they are not a contractor, just by seeing the requirements. The goal is to make it opt-in, member schools agree to follow certain standards that they help create….and later can choose to be audited by a peer trainer for a grade. (Much like the BBB, but grading on how well they abide to the ideal of the voluntary code.) Members can then advertise that they use and follow a code which helps unite all the different training organizations. This will also help in fund-raising and raising donor confidence.
Much like the electric code, UL and other building standards… a code is usually created by an industry group. Law makers are the ones that adopt that standard, and create laws mandating the use of a specific standard. So long as the industry is updating the underlying standard, it keeps the law makers from creating the specific rules.
Let me know if your interested in joining or helping with this project. At this stage there are no costs or fees, our goal is to get as many programs on the bandwagon to solidify and justify the project. Service Dogs of Florida, Inc. is currently listing this as a project so that it can extend it’s 501c3 status and accept donations for this initiative. With enough founding members it will spin off as an independent FL non-profit.
The more members – the more impact, and the stronger the case for the GOV to stay out…if the industry can clean house.
http://www.ServiceDogSchools.org http://www.ServiceDogCode.org http://www.SDcode.org
Director of Operations
Service Dogs of Florida, Inc.