From The Dog Alliance, the Spotlight Organization Get Involved this month:
The pack counts
The Dog Alliance programs and services incorporate the powerful bond between dogs and humans to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and families. Originally known as the Austin Dog Alliance, we began as a grassroots organization with a mission to use dogs for the benefit of the wider community.
Today, service dog training and placement, therapy dog training, family pet training, and youth programs work together to enable the Dog Alliance to reach more than 62,000 individuals and families in central Texas each year.
After our organization started in 2006 in the house of our managing director, it moved to a shopping mall in 2009. In 2011 the Dog Alliance bought 7 acres in Cedar Park, Texas. In 2013 we celebrated the move into our first 3,200 square meter building on the new property with voluntary welding participation and extremely important joint partnerships. The central design of our first building is a homely environment that makes customers 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 on all of our dog training-based programs – service dog, therapy dog, and pet. Fast forward to 2021 to find the Austin Dog Alliance dba the Dog Alliance that continues to influence life every day!
Community Service Programs
Our first service program – Bow Wow Therapy Dogs – is very popular and is being requested by schools, public libraries, senior facilities, child medical facilities, juvenile courts and after-school programs. At the time we stopped site visits due to COVID, 174 voluntary dog handler and dog therapy teams regularly visited more than 352 sites each year, the majority of which were weekly visits. We are now in the process of re-certifying each voluntary dog handler team and welcoming new voluntary dog handler dog teams to resume on-site visits from autumn 2021.
The Dog Alliance is recognized as a fully accredited member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI) as one of only 135 accredited members worldwide. Training service dogs to give veterans the opportunity to improve their quality of life and / or expand the challenges of physical mobility was at the heart of our Hounds for Heroes professional training program, which began in early 2013. In response to demand, Train offers Your Own Service Dog (TYOSD) – added in 2017 as an expansion of Hounds for Heroes. Veterans and civilians are eligible to apply for this owner-trained program. In 2020 we added first responders as eligible to receive a professionally trained service dog or enroll in the TYOSD program. If you or your company are interested in sponsoring a service dog, please email Joni at ThePack@thedogalliance.org.
The Learning Academy is our year-round paid training program for individuals and families. Our professional, certified trainers use positive reinforcement, scientifically based training methods that are tailored to the individual needs of each dog and owner. Group classes include puppy kindergarten, puppy manners, dog manners, agility, nose work, dog sports like tricks and rallying, reactive dog rehabilitation, pet therapy training, and more. Private 1: 1 tuition is also available.
The K9 Kids Summer Camp welcomes more than 400 children aged 6 to 14 who arrive on our campus with their dogs. Depending on the age group, campers learn about pet safety, how to bathe and brush your dog, how to teach your dogs basic skills and tricks, and how to perform the agility course. Add crafts and learn to make delicious dog biscuits to round out a fun week. Registration opens annually in March and these 8 camp weeks sell out quickly.
The effects 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. The K9 Kids Summer Camp turned into an online experience last summer. Outdoor dog training courses resumed at the end of September 2020 with limited registration and a mask requirement. Even now, course registrations remain fluid based on the Williamson and Travis counties pandemic gating criteria.
Our Bow Wow therapy dog teams have not been on site since the beginning of March 2020. We continue to prepare our volunteer teams so that when it is safe we can return to our schools, nursing homes and hospitals.
Hounds for Heroes and Train Your Own Service Dog continued, but at different stages of outdoor video conferencing training to keep attendees 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 reading dogs exceeded the number of available volunteer teams. Does your dog love to be with other people and dogs? Are you looking for a way to get involved in a way that best fits your lifestyle and schedule? NOTE: Proof of a completed COVID vaccine is required to volunteer as the Bow Wow Therapy Dog team as you visit schools, public libraries, hospitals and elderly care facilities.
If you are new to volunteering with your dog, our 6-week Bow Wow Therapy Dog & Handler Training Course is required before the test.
Support the package
Training service dogs and therapy dogs is an expensive process as we settle for nothing less than excellence. Each service dog requires more than 18 months of professional program training and costs $ 45,000 from launch to deployment with a qualified veteran or first responder.
We’re investing $ 900 for every therapy dog that is trained and used as a canine handler volunteer team that serves our greater Austin community.
The income from the Learning Academy training courses and the fees for the K9 Kids Summer Camp help offset the direct costs of our service dog and therapy dog programs. By taking part in a training course or enrolling your favorite child in summer camp, you are helping us to train service dogs and therapy dogs!
Direct donations are always trendy! Your donation of any amount helps directly with the training of a service dog or a therapy dog. You can make a secure online donation. Or, send a check made out to The Dog Alliance to 1321 W. New Hope Dr., Cedar Park, TX 78613.
Your donation is tax deductible as we are an IRS recognized not for profit under 501 (c) (3). Here is our A # 20-4797768.