Standards and Ethics

MSSD strives to uphold the best training and service dog standards. We have adapted our standards to either meet or surpass the Minimum Standards set by Assistance Dogs International (ADI)

Minimum Standards for Service Dogs in Public

These are intended to be minimum standards for all assistance dog programs that are members or provisional members with ADI. All programs are encouraged to work at levels above the minimums.

  1. Public appropriateness
    • Dog is clean, well-groomed and does not have an offensive odor.
    • Dog does not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations.
  2. Behavior
    • Dog does not solicit attention, visit or annoy any member of the general public.
    • Dog does not disrupt the normal course of business.
    • Dog does not vocalize unnecessarily, i.e. barking, growling or whining.
    • Dog shows no aggression towards people or other animals.
    • Dog does not solicit or steal food or other items from the general public.
  3. Training
    • Dog is specifically trained to perform 3 or more tasks to mitigate aspects of the client’s disability.
    • Dog works calmly and quietly on harness, leash or other tether.
    • Dog is able to perform its tasks in public.
    • Dog must be able to lie quietly beside the handler without blocking aisles, doorways, etc.
    • Dog is trained to urinate and defecate on command.
    • Dog stays within 24″ of its handler at all times unless the nature of a trained task requires it to be working at a greater distance.

MSSD believes that the following tenets are necessary to ensure that MSSD will continue to produce a quality product and to protect applicants, students and graduates from feeling exploited or demeaned.

  1. Any individual staff member or program volunteer working with dogs and/or clients that requires specialized people/canine skills must have:
    • An affinity for people and excellent communication skills.
    • Canine knowledge and training experience that ensures established training and client standards can be met by MSSD.
  2. Policies and procedures are followed to ensure that MSSD will be able to maintain established standards of service to people with disabilities through our application/student/graduate selection, training and team matching methods.
  3. All Board members of MSSD must receive orientation and be provided with appropriate educational materials about our respective programs. The materials should include but not be limited to the following:
    • History of Service Dogs and the history of our respective programs.
    • MSSD’s established Standards and Ethics.
    • Board of Director responsibilities such as financial management, resource identification, solicitation and fund-raising.
    • Ongoing Programs and Services and long-range planning.
  4. MSSD recognizes the community has a right to receive information concerning MSSD’s program Standards and Ethics.
  5. MSSD recognizes the community has a right to receive education on the benefits received by a person with a disability through the use of a Service Dog.

MSSD will also:

  • Provide the handler with enough instruction to be able to meet MSSD’s Minimum Standards for Service Dogs in Public.
  • Document monthly follow-ups with handlers for the first 12 months following placement and then twice annually for the life of the dog.
  • Provide a laminated ID card with photos and names of the service dog and its handler.
  • Provide each service dog with a cape that is to be worn in public so they can be identified as a service dog.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of each handlers’ disabilities in relation to the services MSSD provides. MSSD will make available to staff and volunteers educational material on different disabilities.
  • Make sure every service dog meets MSSD’s Standards and Ethics, which includes being spayed/neutered and have current vaccination certificates prior to being placed with a handler.
  • Inform a handler of any special health or maintenance care required for any dog.
  • Accept responsibility for its dogs in the event of a graduate’s death or incapacity to provide proper care.
  • NOT train, place, or certify dogs with any aggressive behavior. A Service Dog may not be trained in any way for guard or protection duty. Non-aggressive barking as a trained behavior will be acceptable in appropriate situations.