Service Dog Screening Program

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seeing_eyeService dogs play a crucial part in the day to day lives of individuals with disabilities, and for those that they serve even one day "off" is a hardship.  When a service dog needs invasive diagnostic tests due to an injury or illness, the individual that dog serves suffers as well.  Our goal is to minimize the invasive nature of these tests.

Service dogs have already indirectly benefited from the clinical studies supported by the foundation.  Foundation supported research in the use of medical infrared imaging as a non invasive diagnostic tool has already been published, but more research is needed.  

We need to raise $80,000 to allow us to research other non invasive diagnostic options which are crucial to keeping these animals "on the job", healthy and comfortable.

Title of Proposed Study: Screening program for Service Dogs


Service dogs provide invaluable assistance to individuals needing their help to perform everyday tasks. The training involved in developing effective guide dogs is arduous, beginning early in life and continues through many phases before the certification is given. The development of orthopedic disease late in training or early in a service dog's life can result in premature retirement from a career as a service dog leaving individuals in need without this essential assistance until a new service dog can be trained and paired with them. The financial burden of training and time lost have a substantial impact on guide dog training foundations if even a single dog cannot continue with its expected career. Most of these juvenile orthopedic conditions can be detected early and in many cases successfully treated if diagnosed in the earliest phases of the condition.



To develop non invasive screening programs using traditional methods like radiography and evolving technologies like force-plate analysis and medical infrared imaging to screen prospective service dogs for juvenile orthopedic diseases.


Service dogs are called upon to perform a variety of physical tasks when assisting their human companions to live full productive lives. Significant costs and countless hours are invested in the development of a successful service dog. Service dogs are expected to provide assistance for many years before retiring because of age related limitations. Premature retirement from a service dog career substantially impacts guide dog training foundations both financially and logistically. Additionally, the individual in need must be paired with a new service canine having lost valuable time training with a service dog found to be unable to fulfill its duties. Several studies at Long Island Veterinary Specialists, in collaboration with The Guide Dog Foundation of Smithtown, NY, have already proven successful in the early detection and treatment of juvenile orthopedic diseases. 

Materials and Methods:

Using medical infrared imaging, forceplate analysis and traditional radiography, a standardized screening program would be developed to screen dogs as they enter the training program and again one year later. Fifty dogs each year would be anticipated for an effective program.


1. Salaries  = $ 200 per dog donated by the staff at Long Island Veterinary Specialists (LIVS)

2. Initial diagnostics per dog =$700

3. Follow up diagnostics per dog   =$700

Total $80,000






Service Dog Screening

Service Dog Screening