Saint Francis trains and places service dogs to assist people with physical disabilities, including our veterans. We place service dogs with children and adults with autism, cerebral palsy, joint and/or muscular diseases, multiple sclerosis, ALS, brain injury, paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other physical conditions.
Service dogs can perform up to 50 tasks that make people’s lives easier. They turn light switches on and off, retrieve items, carry things, and go for help when necessary. They can also dramatically change a person's life by giving them a higher level of confidence and more independence. This translates into finding the courage to challenge themselves and living life to the fullest.
Saint Francis is not a part of a large, national organization but we are the largest service dog organization in Virginia and the first in Virginia to be accredited by Assistance Dogs International. Assistance Dogs International is a non-profit organization that maintains the standards of excellence in all aspects of the service dog industry from puppy acquisition, to training and placement. The accreditation process is voluntary and reinforces our commitment to placing the highest quality service dogs in the industry and in the world!
A service dog can decrease a person’s need for assistance from others by 60%, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Almost all of our partners with physical disabilities deal with issues other than their primary physical diagnosis. Aside from physical pain, almost universally, they deal with anxiety, depression and loneliness. Sometimes, these conditions are more debilitating than the physical disability. A service dog can diminish feelings of loneliness and increase a person’s confidence, all while helping them to live with more independence.
According to a 1996 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, healthcare costs of $60,000 to $80,000 per person may be saved along with a 68% reduction in human healthcare hours over the working life of a service dog. Adjusted for inflation and increased healthcare costs, the amount saved by a service dog becomes even more compelling. If Saint Francis can place twenty-five dogs a year, then Saint Francis can save Virginia $2 million in healthcare costs over the working life of the dogs.
It takes two years and $25,000 to obtain, raise, train, and place a single Saint Francis Service Dog. Saint Francis absorbs this cost and does not charge for service dogs. Saint Francis operates without a revenue stream, government funds or insurance reimbursements. Money is raised through private donations, grants, and fundraisers.
With your help, Saint Francis can continue to help children and adults fully embrace life with increased independence and greater opportunities. Your donation will help a person with a disability make a fresh start with the help of a devoted, professionally trained service dog. Your help allows us to continue to make a difference in the lives of those who need us most, while enriching the world around us all.
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