As many studies have concluded, alert and assist dogs can be beneficial for people with epilepsy. Alert and assist dogs range from assisting a person in day to day life, alerting when a person has a seizure, to even prediction an upcoming seizure. Although it must be noted a dog cannot be trained to predict seizures, it does occur, and through training dogs can be used to alert upon seizures, and even call for emergency services. And with the American Disability Act, these dogs are allowed in public places, stores, and other venues where none disabled people are allowed.
Obtaining the dog however, is easier said than done. In some cases a dog can purchased or obtained from a shelter and trained by a professional trainer. This is not the typical seizure dog training program. The typical training time ranges from 18 months to 2 years; yet as these dogs are lifelong companions, training to a degree is a lifelong process. Most of the training programs produce fully trained dogs. In these instances you must first fill out an application and see if you qualify. If you do, then depending on the venue and how you approach this task, your journey to obtaining a service dog begins.
In these cases, there are three main ways of obtaining the dog. First, you can purchase the dog, with the average cost ranging from $7,000 – $50,000.00. Some seizure dog training programs require the recipient to fundraise for the organization, and you receive the dog after reaching a specific fundraising goal. Or, you could go on the waiting list to get the dog reduced priced or free. However the average wait time on these lists can range from one to fifteen years.
It is important to remember each service dog venue has different standards and ways to obtain your dog. The best first step is to do a little personal research based on your needs. Just like any other kind of dog, these dogs come with responsibility, they too must be fed, exercised, given breaks, as well as being consistent with training.
For more about the ADA and service dogs:
Medical writings supporting use of dogs:
Additional writings on the subject (with clarifications on what can and cannot be taught):
Websites for obtaining alert assistance dogs: