New Life Mobility Assistance Dogs NLMAD

New Life Mobility Assistance Dogs


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Assistance Dog?

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) defines an assistance dog or service dog as a dog trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. "Seeing Eye" is the type with which most people are familiar, but there are many other types of assistance, such as:

  • Pulling wheelchairs
  • Assisting persons with balance and support
  • Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds
  • Alerting persons with epilepsy of an impending seizure
  • Carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments

The ADA requires any privately owned businesses that serve the public to allow blind, deaf, or physically disabled people accompanied by their service animals into all areas open to the general public.

NLMAD assistance dogs are trained to assist people who have disabilities which limit their mobility in some way. NLMAD dogs are taught approximately 60 commands based on the needs of the recipient. Skills include:

  • turning lights on and off
  • retrieving the phone
  • opening and closing doors and drawers
  • retrieving a drink from the refrigerator
  • picking up dropped items such as keys and coins
  • providing balance with walking
  • providing bracing for getting up from a seated position or from a fall

Assistance dogs also provide emotional support, companionship, and health therapy benefits, and help to break down social barriers for their recipients. In some cases dogs are able to take the place of an attendant, which saves recipients and their insurance carriers money. Recipients speak of new-found confidence and an increased ability to lead fuller lives, due to the fact that they do not have to depend on another person to do taken-for-granted chores

Why use shelter dogs?

The Wilkes County Animal Shelter euthanized over 7000 dogs in 2000. A large number of dogs in shelters ended up there simply because their people didn't have time for them, not because they are bad or aggressive. There are literally thousands of good dogs in shelters across the country. Most of them are there due to the large numbers of unplanned and unwanted litters produced each year, because so many owners fail to spay/neuter their dogs and then allow them to roam free. NLMAD has had success with both mixed and purebred dogs taken from shelters. To date, the organization has rescued over eighty dogs from shelters and breed rescue groups.

Are shelter dogs safe?

Yes! Shelter dogs are screened before leaving the shelter. Once accepted into the program, the dogs go through a minimum of six months and up to eighteen months of daily training before being certified and placed with a disabled person. Throughout training, dogs become well socialized to people and other animals, and are tested continually for proper temperament and behavior. Aggressiveness is not permitted in assistance dogs and any dog exhibiting aggressive behavior is immediately washed out of the program. There are too many "good" dogs available.

Who is eligible?

Recipients of NLMAD dogs include people who have conditions such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, arthritis, spina bifida, stroke, ataxia/ poor balance, birth defects, muscle weakness, limited gripping ability in hands, loss of overall strength and endurance, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and accidents leaving paralysis. They range in age from 4 years old to 82 years old.

How can I apply for help?

We ask that you complete an application so that we can enter your information into our system and begin to evaluate whether or not one of our dogs will be able to help you.

We will need a short video of you demonstrating how you get around and how you accomplish a few daily tasks. This will help us in training a dog to better suit your needs. If you do not have or know someone with a camcorder, check with a local community college or four-year university office. They should be able to put you in contact with a student or faculty member whop would do your video as a favor or class project.

Once your application and video have been reviewed and you are accepted into the program, we require that you raise a minimum $1,000 donation to go towards the cost of your dog. You will be provided with brochures and letters to help with your fundraising. Local businesses, civic groups, churches, doctors, and disabled advocacy groups are great places to begin your efforts.

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