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Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

On December 7, 1941 service members and civilians lost their lives on the Pearl Harbor Naval Station. Today we honor and remember them, their families and the survivors.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Did you know that numerous states have service animal laws that make it illegal to fraudulently misrepresent any animal as a service animal to businesses or other public places?

In Arizona, for example, the law carries a civil penalty of up to $250 for each violation. Fake service animals can harm the reputation of a highly trained service dog (or miniature horse) if they exhibit negative behavior in public or show signs of aggression toward people and other animals. Research your state's laws for specific details on this violation.

It's time to take part in the biggest giving day of the year! Celebrate GivingTuesday whether that be through giving your time, your gifts, talents or monetary contributions. Every gift, both big and small, helps make a difference. 

Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving!

From our SBF family to yours, we wish you a peaceful day filled with family, football and great food. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

According to documentation published by Michigan State University College of Law, all but six states (Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, and West Virginia) have laws that protect service animals from criminal interference, theft and assault.

In Arizona, a person has committed cruelty for any of the following:
* Recklessly, intentionally, or knowingly interferes with, harming or killing a service animal without either legal privilege or consent of the owner.
* Recklessly, intentionally, or knowingly allows any dog that is under the person's custody or control to interfere with, kill or cause physical injury to a service animal.
* Intentionally or knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control over a service animal with the intent to deprive the service animal handler of the service animal.

Laws vary from state to state. We recommend researching your state's laws for specific details.

November is often associated with a time of giving thanks, and this year is no different. In order to get the most out of the month, we’re deeming this as the year to start early. Make the entire month about showing gratitude to those you love, and even strangers.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Did you know that according to The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA,) when in stores, restaurants and other public locations, if it is not apparent that the dog is a service dog, staff may only ask two specific questions:

Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Staff cannot require the dog to demonstrate its tasks, they cannot request documentation and they are not permitted to ask about the nature of the person's disability.

A special note to those who served…
A special note to those who served…

America is filled with a promise for tomorrow thanks to our history being shaped by heroes like you. On Veterans Day and every day, we give our gratitude for your service.

Happy 246th birthday to the United States Marines Corps!
Happy 246th birthday to the United States Marines Corps!
Thank you Circle K!
Thank you Circle K!

We want to give a special shoutout to our presenting sponsor from our 10th Anniversary Golf Tournament...

Circle K, from all of us at Soldier's Best Friend, THANK YOU for your continued support of this organization. We are incredibly honored and fortunate to have you as our partners.

Friday Facts, how are we doing?
Friday Facts, how are we doing?

Four months ago we began #FridayFacts in an effort to educate the public about service dogs. Now we want to hear from you.

* Do you find these posts interesting?
* Do you want us to continue them?
* Are there any specifics service dog related topics you want us to cover?
* Do you have any questions for us?

Send us an email to let us know: contact@soldiersbestfriend.org

You can also reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

As you prepare for Halloween, remember to consider your furry friend. Take a minute to read these tips on how to create a safe experience for your fur family.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Did you know that according to The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a service animal must be trained before it can be taken into public locations, however, each state has its own laws pertaining to service animals? In Arizona, for example, it is unlawful for an establishment to deny access to a service animal in training. Since the laws vary from state to state, it is important to know what the law allows before you travel with your service animal.

The spooky season is coming to an end before we know it, but that doesn’t mean we’re over October. Scary doesn’t always have to be bad. Instead, use these final weeks as a reminder to do some scary-good deeds and give back to your community.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Continuing with last week's theme, did you know that The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require dogs be "certified" as service animals? (Dogs need to be highly trained to perform specific tasks to help their handler with their disabilities, as discussed in previous Friday Facts posts.)

According to the ADA, "covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry."

At SBF we are careful to not use the word "certified" as part of our language since there is no such legal obligation. Even though the ADA does not require documentation, SBF issues ID cards and Completion of Training Certificates to our graduate teams once they have successfully completed our rigorous training program. It helps businesses recognize that the service dog was trained through a reputable organization.

Invisible Illness Awareness Week
Invisible Illness Awareness Week

October 17 - 23 is Invisible Illness Awareness Week. We would like to offer a reminder to be kind to everyone you meet. Everyone is going through a battle, some you just cannot see.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

A vest does not make a service dog. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require service dogs to wear a vest, special harness, or patch to identify them. While it is not required, some individuals prefer their service dog to wear something showing the distinction. This can be beneficial for the public to easily identify the dog is working and needs to remain focused on their handler.

Happy birthday United States Navy!
Happy birthday United States Navy!

Happy 246th birthday to the United States Navy.

October is Photographer Appreciation Month which means we HAVE to give a shoutout to our favorite photographer, the one and only Kristy Velesko!

Kristy started doing photography for SBF in 2018. Since that time she has not missed a single graduation, fundraising event or any other opportunity to capture moments for our organization. She even co-hosts her own fundraising event each December, Santa for Soldiers, in support of SBF.

We are incredibly grateful to have this talent provide her services to us and she does it all on a volunteer basis. THANK YOU KRISTY!!

We recommend that you take a quick minute to read this short article by American Kennel Club, "10 Science-Based Benefits of Having a Dog". Everyone should have a best friend like this!

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. This includes areas such as transportation, employment, public accommodations, communications and state and local government programs and services. Service animals fall under this protection. Even businesses that have a “no pets” policy must modify their rules to allow service animals into their facilities.

These protections do not apply to emotional support, therapy, companion or comfort animals, because they have not been trained for specific tasks, like a service animal has been.

Life happens, and focusing on all aspects of your health is easier said than done. Take small steps in each area to start building solid habits!

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

After the feedback we received from a Friday Facts post a few weeks ago, we thought it would be worth repeating this important message about service dog etiquette...

Do NOT distract service jobs from doing their very important work. It could be a matter of life or death for their handler. Just because you cannot see their disability, it does not mean they do not have one. Also remember that it is not okay to ask the handler what kind of disability they have.

If you are a parent, teacher or around children, educate them about the proper etiquette regarding service dogs. It is a natural reaction for kids (and adults!) to want to pet a dog they see in the grocery store, bank or other unexpected places, but most do not realize the dog is serving an important purpose until an adult explains it to them.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) service animals must be allowed to accompany a person with a disability in areas of a facility where the public is allowed to go. This includes, but is not limited to stores, restaurants, hospitals, ambulances, hotels and lodging, public transportation, educational institutions, senior centers, homeless shelters, stadiums, auditoriums, theaters, museums, gyms, parks and more!

Currently, under the ADA and Arizona law, a business cannot ask a handler to see certification of the animal or ask about the handler’s disability (more to come on that on future #FridayFacts.) However, there are exceptions to allowing service dogs in public. Here are a few:
* If the dog is aggressive and appears to pose a threat to others.
* If the dog is not housebroken.
* If the handler is unable or unwilling to control the animal.
* If the dog creates a burden on the establishment. Example: While service dogs are allowed in the patient rooms of a hospital, they are not allowed to go into areas that need to remain sterile.
* If the dog alters the nature of the establishment. Example: At a zoo a service animal can be restricted to areas where the dog’s presence would not be disruptive to the animals on display.

Additionally, establishments are not allowed to charge a special fee or have service dog handlers pay extra costs for having the service animal accompany them in public.

International Day of Peace, recognized on September 21 every year, is the perfect opportunity to promote peace in the world around us.

Happy birthday to the United States Air Force today!
Happy birthday to the United States Air Force today!
Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Continuing last week’s theme about service dog etiquette, this time we're going to discuss the handlers. When people see service dogs they tend to get excited. After all, who can resist those brown eyes, soft ears and impeccable training? Yet that is exactly what you should do if you encounter a service dog in public.

Handlers of service dogs frequently deal with strangers asking them questions. Keep these things in mind if you see a service dog at the store, a restaurant or anywhere else:

* Do NOT ask the handler about their disability. That is just plain rude. Would you want them to ask you about your medical history?
* Do NOT talk to the handler through the dog.
* Do NOT be offended if the handler does not want to talk about their service dog.
* Do NOT be offended if the handler does not want you to touch their service dog (after you have asked first, of course.)
* DO realize that dog is highly valued and well-loved.
* DO help educate young children about service dog etiquette.
* DO pretend the dog is not there. Treat it as you would a wheelchair or any other piece of medical equipment.

Constitution Day September 17th
Constitution Day September 17th

On September 17 of every year, the United States of America recognizes Constitution Day, which commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution and celebrates those who have become U.S. citizens.

September 11th, Never Forget
September 11th, Never Forget

On the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we remember the sorrow of that day and the lives lost but let us also remember the strength and determination of those who responded to the tragic events.

#neverforget

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Service dog etiquette is something that does not get discussed often enough. Some people know that you should not pet a service dog while it is working, but less people realize that you should NEVER distract them. This means:
* No petting the dog.
* No talking to or trying to get the dog's attention.
* No saying the dog’s name.
* No eye contact with the dog.

Distracting a service dog can prevent it from doing its job, which is keeping their handler safe. Even if you cannot see the handler’s disability or the dog looks like it is “just laying there,” know that while it is on duty the dog has a job to do.

It is the responsibility of all people to not deliberately take the dog’s attention away.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

While there is not a typical pattern or behavior for someone who is suicidal, here are some common warning signs that are easy to spot:
• Talking about dying or wanting to die.
• Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no way out of problems.
• Mentioning strong feelings of guilt or shame.
• Talking about not having a reason to live or that others would be better off without them.
• Social withdrawal and isolation.
• Giving away personal items and wrapping up loose ends.
• Saying goodbye to friends and family.

Some less obvious suicidal warning signs could include:
• Unusual changes in behavior.
• Changes in sleep patterns.
• Accessing lethal means.
• Emotional distancing.
• Physical pain.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day. Call 800-273-8255 for help.

Happy Labor Day!
Happy Labor Day!

We hope you have a happy and safe Labor Day!

We all want our best friends to be with us as long as possible. This is a great article from an animal expert sharing tips to help our dogs live a longer, healthier life.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Hopefully we have expressed how highly trained service dogs are. Even though they can interrupt night terrors, detect low insulin or retrieve items off the floor, service dogs are still dogs. As with all dogs, they have their own personalities. Some enjoy cuddles, others love to run and play, and others just like to goof off. No matter the personality, they all need time to just be dogs. Unlike regular pets, service dogs have time to decompress built into their schedule. Once the vest comes off, service dogs know how to make the most of their time.

Help celebrate service dogs by making a donation today to Soldier's Best Friend! Your contribution will help us as we pair dogs from rescue shelters with veterans living with combat-related PTSD or TBI. Help us touch two lives at once!

Click the headline above to be directed to our online donation page.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

This week let’s talk about the service dogs that Soldier’s Best Friend (SBF) trains, psychiatric service dogs. Like their physical and intellectual/developmental service dog counterparts, these highly trained dogs help with a wide range of symptoms. The service dogs that we train at SBF help combat-veterans living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI.)

Here are a few examples of how psychiatric service dogs are trained to help their handler:
* Be alert to anxiety and panic attacks and interrupt the attack.
* These service dogs can help with depression.
* They can be trained to wake a person from night terrors.
* They can help mitigate flashbacks or intrusive memories.
* They act as a friendly barrier in crowded places which can help with the uneasiness some veterans experience in these environments.
* Having a service dog means caring for another living being, having to feed it, take it outside, etc. A number of our graduates have expressed that due to these things, having their service dog has helped with their previously reclusive behavior.
* Graduates of our program have reported that having a service dog has helped curb suicidal thoughts.

As always, we caution the public, do NOT interrupt a service dog while it is working. You might not be able to see how it is helping, but it is working hard and distractions are unwelcome.

Inspiration is a fickle thing. It comes and goes with little warning. The good news is, you can always reignite inspiration when you’re feeling uninspired.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Last week we discussed the service dogs trained to help with physical disabilities. This week let’s talk about service dogs who are trained to help with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Again, keep in mind this is a small list of what these dogs can be trained to do.

*These dogs can be trained to interrupt repetitive behavior.
*With children, these service dogs can be taught to alert when the child might be harming themselves.
*The dog can apply deep pressure to help calm a distressed individual.
*They provide tactile stimulation.
*Service dogs will stay close during outings.
*Service dogs can help facilitate social interactions, which helps reduce isolation.

Remember to not distract a service dog while it is working!

We understand that for many veterans, this might be a difficult time with the situation in Afghanistan. Please click the title/link for a quick reference list of resources from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Today is National Nonprofit Day!
Today is National Nonprofit Day!

Show support for your favorite non-profit (we hope it’s us!) by making a donation.  Your contribution will help us as we pair combat-veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with a dog rescued from a local shelter.   The team will train together and build a trusting relationship that saves two lives at once and inspires countless others.

Want to support in ways other than by donating?  We are always looking for fosters to help us with the rescue dogs as they transition between the shelter and their veteran.  To volunteer for this life saving mission, click here: https://soldiersbestfriend.org/how-to-help/foster.html

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Last week we mentioned that service dogs perform a wide variety of tasks. We thought we’d delve a little deeper into that.

Service dogs help individuals with physical disabilities. Each human/dog pairing is different, so the dog is trained to help their handler with their specific needs. Below is a small sampling of what they can be trained to do.
* Some service dogs are trained to turn on lights or open doors.
* They can be taught to pick-up items dropped on the ground or retrieve items from other locations, such as picking up keys dropped on the ground or grabbing a cell phone left on the table.
* They can press buttons, for example, on an elevator or the button to open automatic doors.
* If an individual is moving from a wheelchair to the bed (or other location) or if they need assistance getting off the ground, the dogs can be taught to "brace" thus allowing their handler to put weight on the dog for stability.
* Seizure alert dogs can warn the handler of an oncoming seizure, and some will lie next to their handler during the event to prevent injury.
* Diabetic alert service dogs can inform their handlers of a low or high blood sugar event before it becomes dangerous.
* Service dogs can be trained to alert other family members if their handler needs assistance.

These dogs are highly trained professionals. Remember to not distract a service dog while it is working.

SBF gives Gust Rosenfeld a heartfelt 'thank you' for choosing us to be recipient's of their 100th anniversary celebration. Thank you, Gust Rosenfeld, for your generosity during your time of celebration!

Click above to read their official press release.

The journey through training...
The journey through training...

Our service dog training program takes a minimum of 6 to 9 months to successfully complete all the requirements needed to master the tasks that help with the handler’s specific symptoms of PTSD and/or TBI. This training includes weekly private sessions and weekly group training sessions. In addition, the veterans are assigned “homework” to keep working with their dogs, even when they are not scheduled for training.

Our supportive trainers and staff try to make the process the best it can be for our veteran/dog teams. No matter the amount of time it takes each team to graduate from the program, we encourage them not to compare their experience to others and focus only on their own journey as everyone walks a different path.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Guide dogs and hearing dogs are possibly the most commonly known types of service dog, but service dogs perform tasks for a wide range of disabilities. Most of them fit into one of four categories: physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, intellectual/developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. The work that the service dog is trained to perform is unique to their handler’s specific set of needs; because of this, every human/service dog team is different.

No matter what type of work they do, it is important to never distract the service dog from doing its very important job of keeping their handler safe.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is closing its national office for a week to provide employees paid time off for a mental health break and encourages other companies to do the same. Click the headline to read more.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Did you know that therapy dogs, emotional support animals and other working canines are not service dogs?

Therapy dogs do an important job. They are also well-trained, friendly, sweet-tempered dogs, but above all else, they are pets. They often volunteer in hospitals, schools, group homes, funerals, disaster areas, etc. Unlike service dogs, they only have access to buildings where pets are allowed.

Emotional support animals can be any species. Their purpose is to provide comfort. These animals are also not permitted special public access.

Facility dogs are a specialized form of therapy dogs. These dogs are often found in counselor’s offices, physical therapist’s offices or anywhere else a professional provides specialized services to numerous people. As with therapy dogs and emotional support animals, facility dogs are not permitted in public places outside the building where they work.

A newer form of therapy dog are courthouse companion dogs. These specialized dogs are trained to work with children (or adults) in the courtroom to provide support when painful or difficult testimony is being given. Outside of the courtrooms that they work in, they do not have public access.

Working dogs, such as search and rescue, military k9s and police dogs are also not service dogs.

Friday, July 30 is considered International Day of Friendship. Celebrate with these ways you can show the people you love the most just how much they mean to you.

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Service dogs cannot be identified simply by looking at them. There is not a stipulation on what kind of dog can be a service dog, they can come in all shapes, sizes, colors and breeds if they can effectively execute the tasks needed to help mitigate the symptoms of the disability.

While some breeds are more commonly used as service dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherd Dogs, for example, the most important thing is that the dog is handler-focused, desensitized to distractions and trained to be highly reliable to perform specific tasks. Service dogs need to be attentive and responsive to their handlers.

In short, if a dog has the proper temperament, loves to learn, and is physically healthy, then they’re capable of training to be a service dog! Our two SBF graduates pictured left, Sarge (Chihuahua/Yorkie) and Toki (English mastiff), are two great examples of service dog diversity.

Seeking bottled water donations!
Seeking bottled water donations!

Our veteran/dog teams continue training throughout the hot summer months. To help them stay hydrated we are looking for businesses interested in donating cases of water.

Please reach out to contact@soldiersbestfriend.org or call our office 623-218-6486 to coordinate.

Thank you for your support!

Friday Facts
Friday Facts

Service dogs are professionals who are trained to help a person with a disability lead a more independent life. These dogs go through hundreds of hours of training, which includes basic obedience, manners, intermediate and advanced skills along with public access training. Each service dog is also trained job-specific tasks to help their human partner with their set of unique needs.

Check back each Friday for more fast facts about service dogs.

Our Impact

  • Graduate Veteran/Dog Teams

    305

  • Rescued Arizona Homeless Dogs

    186

  • Our Goal for Veterans Served in 2021

    125

  • Training Hours Provided in 2020

    1668.35

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