The dogs are provided under DVA’s Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP). To refer a veteran for an assistance dog, they must meet the eligibility, exclusion and suitability criteria outlined in the RAP guidelines (PDF - 844KB).
Psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health social workers and mental health occupational therapists can seek prior financial approval from DVA to provide a dog to an eligible veteran.
To request approval, please submit to DVA a completed Request for Psychiatric Assistance Dog - Prior Approval (RAP) form and complete a WHO Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 (WHODAS 2.0) questionnaire for the veteran being referred.
If approved by DVA, the psychiatric assistance dog provider will then assess the veteran’s suitability for a dog and participation in their program.
The dog is individually trained to perform specific tasks that contribute to a person’s clinical recovery goals. For example, waking a person experiencing a night terror, or nuzzling a person to distract them from emotionally disabling symptoms.
Training programs can take time (sometimes up to 12-18 months) before the psychiatric assistance dog will commence living with the veteran. Due to the time required to breed and train a psychiatric assistance dog there may not be an appropriately matched dog immediately available and a veteran may be placed on a waitlist.