How does a BluePath autism service dog work?
Autism service dogs assist parents by preventing bolting and wandering behaviors. Your child will wear a special belt with a tether that securely connects to his or her BluePath service dog. Your child will hold a padded handle on the service dog’s vest and the parent or caregiver will hold the dog’s leash. Your child must be comfortable wearing a belt and you and your caregivers must be comfortable with the child being tethered to the dog out in public.
Does a BluePath autism service dog have special rights in public places?
Yes. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, BluePath Service Dogs are permitted in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go. In order to maintain certified service dog status, one parent must pass a yearly certification test with the dog. BluePath will contact you to set an appointment for the brief recertification test each year.
What should I expect after receiving a BluePath service dog?
Adding a BluePath Service Dog to your family is a major commitment. It will be time consuming, particularly in the first six months as you work to build the bond between the dog and your child. We will be there to support you through every step of the transition; we have an unwavering commitment to deliver personalized service that surpasses expectations. The benefits will be transformative for your family; these may include significant improvement in sleep patterns, the ability to travel in public, reduction of stress and elimination of bolting behaviors.
What is the application process?
If you meet the criteria, you can print and complete our application. Please note that we are not able to process incomplete applications; it is your responsibility to obtain all of the required application materials and submit them to us. Once your completed application has been received and reviewed, the BluePath program staff will contact you to schedule a home interview.
What happens at the home interview?
We will bring a service dog in training to the home interview to see how your child interacts with the dog. We will ask questions regarding your child and how autism impacts your family life. The application process often requires more than one home interview due to the possibility of changes in your child and your home environment while you are waiting to receive your dog.
As part of the home interview, we will go for a walk with the service dog. Your child must be agreeable to walking with the dog and holding the handle on the dog’s vest for a 30 minute period.
When are we officially accepted into the program?
Once your home interview is completed, the BluePath staff will review your application and notify you if you have been accepted, deferred or declined. Dogs are individually matched to families to ensure successful outcomes; the time to train and match a dog to your child, family and environment can range from six months to two years.
You’ll be notified of a class date when we have the right dog ready for your family. One parent or caregiver will be required to spend five days with us in the Hopewell Junction area to learn the fundamental skills needed to work with your service dog. This is an important bonding time, as well as an opportunity to connect with others going through this special experience.
What are the expenses associated with a BluePath service dog?
Each BluePath dog comes with thousands of hours of training from dedicated volunteers and professional staff. Our cost to prepare these incredible dogs is upwards of $20,000, yet thanks to the ongoing generosity of our supporters, BluePath service dogs - and intensive, ongoing follow up support - are provided free of charge.
Families will be required to purchase a specific list of equipment and supplies, and to cover the cost of room and board for the week of Team Training. These expenses will total approximately $1,200.
Ongoing expenses are aligned with the costs to care for a family pet; food, veterinary care and miscellaneous supplies would average $700 annually.
It is expected that BluePath graduates will “pay it forward” through fundraising support and ambassadorship.