Get Involved Spotlight on: The Dog Alliance
From The Dog Alliance, this month’s flagship Get Involved organization:
The pack matters
Dog Alliance’s programs and services integrate the powerful bond between dogs and humans to improve the health and well-being of individuals and families. Originally named the Austin Dog Alliance, we started out as a grassroots organization with the mission of using dogs for the benefit of the community at large.
Today, assistance dog training and placement, therapy dog training, pet training and youth programs work in tandem, allowing the Dog Alliance to make an impact. each year over 62,000 people and families living in central Texas.
Starting in 2006 in our CEO’s house, our organization moved to a linear mall in 2009. In 2011, the Dog Alliance purchased 7 acres in Cedar Park, Texas. With the sweat equity of volunteers and community partnerships critically important, we celebrated the 2013 move into our first 3,200 square foot building on the new property. The key design of our first building is a home-like setting that makes clients and volunteers feel welcome. In 2016, we completed the second building, a kennel and an education center. Our second building has a very large training floor which has allowed us to expand all of our dog training programs – assistance dog, therapy dog and companion animal. Fast forward to 2021 to find the Austin Dog Alliance dba the Dog Alliance which continues to impact lives every day!
Community service programs
Our first service program – Bow Wow Therapy Dogs – is very popular and sought after by schools, public libraries, nursing homes for the elderly, children’s medical facilities, juvenile courts and after-school programs. By the time we ceased site visits due to COVID, there were 174 volunteer dog handler therapy teams regularly visiting over 352 sites each year, the majority of which were weekly visits. We are now re-certifying each volunteer dog handler team and welcoming new volunteer dog handler teams to resume site visits from fall 2021.
The Dog Alliance, as a fully accredited member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI), is recognized as one of 135 accredited members worldwide. Training assistance dogs to give veterans the opportunity to improve their quality of life and / or increase physical mobility challenges has been at the heart of our Dogs for heroes vocational training program from early 2013. Due to demand, Train your own assistance dog (TYOSD) – was added in 2017 as an expansion to Hounds for Heroes. Veterans and civilians are eligible for this owner-trained program. In 2020, we added first responders as eligible to receive a professionally trained assistance dog or enroll in the TYOSD program. If you or your business is interested in helping sponsor a service dog, please contact Joni by sending an email to [email protected]
The Learning Academy is our year-round, fee-for-service training program designed for individuals and families. Our professional and certified trainers use science-based, positive reinforcement training methods tailored to the unique needs of each dog and owner. Group classes include puppy kindergarten, puppy manners, dog manners, agility, nose work, dog sports such as tricks and rallying, reactive dog rehabilitation, pet therapy training , etc. 1: 1 private tuition is also available.
K9 children’s summer camp welcomes more than 400 children from 6 to 14 years old arriving on our campus with their dogs. Depending on the age group, campers learn about pet safety, how to wash and brush their dog, how to teach their dogs basic skills, tips and how to perform the agility course. Add crafts and learn how to make delicious dog biscuits to complete a fun week. Registrations open every year in March and these 8 weeks of camp sell out quickly.
The impact of the pandemic
As expected, the COVID pandemic has changed the way we serve the Greater Austin community. All programs were closed from March to September 2020. K9 Kids Summer Camp converted to an online experience last summer. Outdoor dog training courses resumed at the end of September 2020 with a limited number of registrations and masks required. Even now, class registrations remain fluid based on the pandemic trigger criteria for Williamson and Travis counties.
Our Bow Wow therapy dog teams have not been on site since early March 2020. We continue to prepare our volunteer teams so that when it is safe to do so, we can return to our schools, nursing homes and hospitals. .
Hounds for Heroes and Train Your Own Service Dog continued, but at various stages of videoconferencing training in outdoor environments to keep participants safe.
Volunteers are the “heart and soul” of the Dog Alliance! Find out how you can get involved.
We encourage people to consider joining us as the Bow Wow Therapy Dog Team. Even before the pandemic, the demand for our therapy dogs and our reading dogs exceeded the number of volunteer teams available. Does your dog like being around other people and dogs? Are you looking for a way to get involved in a way that best suits your lifestyle and schedule? REMARK: Proof of a completed COVID vaccine is required to volunteer as the Bow Wow Therapy Dog Team, as you will be visiting schools, public libraries, hospitals, and senior care facilities.
If you are new to volunteering with your dog, our 6 week Bow Wow Therapy Dog & Handler training course is required prior to testing.
Support the pack
Training assistance dogs and therapy dogs is an expensive process because we settle for excellence. Each service dog requires over 18 months of professional training and costs $ 45,000 from start to assignment with a qualified veteran or first responder.
We invest $ 900 for each therapy dog trained and assigned as a volunteer dog handler team serving the Greater Austin community.
Income from the Learning Academy training courses and fees for the K9 Kids Summer Camp help offset the direct costs of our assistance dog and therapy dog programs. By participating in a training course or enrolling your favorite child in a summer camp, you are helping us train assistance dogs and therapy dogs!
Direct donations are always in fashion! Your donation of any amount goes directly to training a service dog or therapy dog. You can make a secure online donation. Or send a check payable to The Dog Alliance by mail to 1321 W. New Hope Dr., Cedar Park, TX 78613.
Your donation is tax deductible because we are an IRS recognized 501 (c) (3) charity. Here is our EIN # 20-4797768.