Service Dogs for America

Assistant Dogs... What are they?
By the definition of Assistance Dogs International an assistance dog is a dog that is trained and placed to work with an individual with any one or more of a number of physical disabilities.  The federal government uses the term Service Dog as the umbrella term to define these dogs.  When seeking information regarding access laws one can expect to find the term Service Dog or Service Animal.

Assistance Dogs have legal access rights into all public accommodations in the United States.  Assistance Dogs perform a wide variety of functions.  There are several different types of service dogs although Great Plains does not train the Seeing Eye or Leader Dog here.  However, we have trained basic guide into some of our specialty class dogs.

Service Dogs- provide mobility assistance to those using wheelchairs or other devices providing mobility assistance.
Hearing Dogs- provide signaling or alerting behaviors for those who live with deafness or other auditory challenges.
Seizure Alert-Response Dogs- provide appropriate alerting behaviors in response to a seizure event.  In the best case scenarios provide alerting behaviors prior to a seizure onset.
Therapeutic Companion Dogs- Provide emotional support to various individuals or groups of individuals.  Elder care facilities, hospice programs and children's hospitals are common settings for these dogs.
Specialty Dogs- provide assistance to individuals living with disabilities which require combinations of the above duties.

It is our mission to assist physically challenged individuals to gain greater independence and autonomy by the use of a trained and certified assistance dog, furthermore to do so without adding excessive financial burden to those using our program.  The focus of our program is human services; the beneficiaries of our program are people.  Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation, Inc. shall use thoroughly tested and trained dogs as the vehicle to accomplish this purpose and shall use humane techniques in doing so.  Physically challenged individuals are the focus... assistance dogs the tool.

Therefore operations shall include public presentations and demonstrations, consultations, referral services and apprenticeships.  Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation, Inc. shall maintain a policy of equality without bias or prejudice.  Membership and participation into organizations which augment our purpose and/or further the assistance dog industry is acceptable and encouraged.  As a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation, political influence and activity are prohibited.

Many people are under the impression that Great Plains is a Federal or State funded agency.  We have in the past taken advantage of economic development loans and on one occasion were the recipients of an economic development grant.  Compared to the more than one million dollars we have raised since our beginning, less than three percent has come from government sources.

Private individual donors along with Lions Clubs will make up more than sixty percent of that income.  These are Foundation members, general donors, and those federal employees who contribute through the Combined Federal Campaign.  What we have is a large number of caring, sharing individuals who give what they can, when they can.  Granting foundations provide roughly twenty-five percent of our annual income.  We are continually searching for new sources of grant income.  However, our relatively unknown and little understood method of assisting people with disabilities disqualifies us from grant contention in many cases.  The remaining dollars are derived from sales/boarding fees, club donations and In-Kind gifts.  The important thing to understand is that the private individual donor who contributes "what they can, when they can" is the backbone of the Great Plains Foundation program.

There are other programs similar to ours, however our program has features others do not possess.  These include the ability and desire to assist children, multiple disabilities, and people with seizure conditions.  Many in these categories have "fallen through the cracks" in the past and we set out to "fill the cracks" and have done just that.

The need for the Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation, Inc. project is evidenced by the incredible increase in demand in the past years.  Each week we receive at least 3 inquiries into program services available.  These develop into three new applications per month.  With every physically challenged individual served, news stories and exposure creates additional interest and demand for our service.  Currently, Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation, Inc. has served more than 50 individuals, with an additional 8 to be added in 1999.  By the end of 2002, we would like to be in a position to serve 24 physically challenged individuals annually.

If you would like more information or a tour of the facility, please contact us at the address below or visit our web site at

Service Dogs for America
P.O. Box 513
Jud, North Dakota  58454
Phone:  (701) 685-2242