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Breeder Caretaker Selection Process

Proven Practices – Utilize our tried and true practices when caring for the puppies and keep records to track success and development.

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To be considered for this role, candidates must:

  • Complete all required Assistance Dogs paperwork, including the Volunteer Agreement
  • Complete the Breeder Caretaker Application
  • Sign the Breeder Caretaker Contract

Once the paperwork is completed the Breeding Coordinator will meet with the candidate and review their application. If this role looks like a fit with the individual a home visit will be set up. Final selection of a prospective Breeder Caretaker is the responsibility of the Breeding Coordinator. Priority will be given to prospective Breeder Caretakers willing to whelp litters in their home (female dogs).

Applicates may have up to 2 pet dogs in their household. There will be a home visit to make sure the breeding dog is comfortable with the other dogs. The Breeder Caretaker needs to be prepared for these dogs to move outside the household for a period of time while the litter is in the house. How long will be determined by the Breeding Coordinator.

General Responsibilities for Breeder Caretakers

The primary purpose of this role is the care and well-being of an Assistance Dogs breeder dog for an extended period of time.

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The Breeder Caretaker will follow the guidelines in the Assistance Dogs Breeding and Pregnancy manual. They will keep the dog current on vaccines, preventative medications and health/reproduction tests (e.g., annual eye exams) as directed by Assistance Dogs. In addition, the Breeder Caretaker will report any incidents of inappropriate behavior (e.g., aggression, fearfulness, or uncontrollability) to Assistance Dogs immediately. Equally important is reporting any medical problems, especially something like a seizure, allergies, etc. It is critical the dog maintains a proper weight as directed by Assistance Dogs staff. Breeder Caretakers are also responsible for maintaining all training, behaviors and skills and following all Assistance Dogs training protocols. This includes the Assistance Dogs house manner rules–not sleeping on bed, not up on furniture etc.

In general, we would not recommend having two breeders in the same home, but the staff will determine if there is an appropriate exception. There may be an occasion when a breeder is temporarily sent to another program and the Breeder Caretaker is asked if they can whelp another breeder such as a visiting dog from another program or special circumstances. But this will be the exception not the rule. The dog is a Service Dog In Training dog until it is placed as a service dog or it retires from breeding.

Dam Breeder Caretaker – not whelping liters

Once a Breeder Caretaker is selected and they do not wish to whelp litters in their home, they will agree to the following:

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When the female is in heat, they will track the heat cycle and help the Breeding Coordinator or other assigned staff member with arrangements for breeding. This may include:
  • Taking the Dam to a specific vet or our facility to get a progesterone sample. This will be every 2-3 days for 1-2 weeks.
  • Follow the Breeding/Pregnancy Care guidelines – feeding, medications, exercise, exposures, taking heat cycle samples, and measurements.
  • The dam will move to the whelping home 2-4 weeks prior to projected whelping day.
  • If the Dam is moving to another service dog program, the Breeding Coordinator or assigned staff member will coordinate that move with the Breeding Caretaker and the other program. In some cases, the Breeder Caretaker will transport the dam to the other program. This could out of state. Transport can also be arranged by the Volunteer Coordinator with another Assistance Dogs volunteer. Approved expenses will be reimbursed (hotel, car mileage and reasonable food costs see Appendix 1. Mileage reimbursement form and Appendix 2. Assistance Dogs volunteer expense report)
  • If the dam is whelping locally, the Breeder Caretaker may be invited to the whelp. The Breeding Coordinator will determine the list of people attending the whelp.

Dam Breeder Caretaker – whelping a litter

Two weeks before the whelp the Breeder Caretaker will set up the whelping pen so the dam can get used to the area. Supplies will be provided by Assistance Dogs. Follow the Breeding/Pregnancy Care guidelines – feeding, medications, exercise, exposures, taking heat cycle samples, and measurements.

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If there are pets in the home, they may need to move out of the house for a period of time to be determined by the Breeding Coordinator. This is dependent on the temperament of the Dam, the ability to move the pet away from the whelping area within the house and temperament of the pet dog.

There may be situations where the dog is moved to another ADI program or host home for breeding and/or whelping even though the breeder caretaker is whiling to whelp litters in their home. This will be decided by the Breeding Coordinator. This can occur when the stud dog is located at another program some distance away and the semen cannot be shipped. Also, when Assistance Dogs needs to conserve resources ex. if 2 or more dogs will deliver close in time.

To remain in these roles, caretakers must:

  • Provide all documentation, breeding/heat logs, in a timely manner
  • Follow all Assistance Dogs training protocols

Dam Breeder Career

Dam Selection Process

A prospective female dog will be reviewed between 12-15 months of age. Selection of a breeder is based on temperament, medical/health clearances and structure. If the dog is part of the Assistance Dog International(ADI) breeding cooperative known as the ABC Breeding Cooperative, the assessment will be done by the ABC Co-op panel with input from Assistance Dogs staff.

Dam Public Access

Once selected as a breeder, a female will continue to have limited public access. It is important to keep up the dog’s skills needed if she went to another program for a litter including, but not limited to, house manners. Full public access is not necessary because she will not likely be placed as a working dog. But keeping the dog fit between pregnancies is very important. The Breeding Coordinator will talk through appropriate ways to do this.

Access will be limited to home, neighborhood and if determined appropriate, a work place. The breeder caretaker should not take a breeder dog to public places like restaurants, grocery stores. A female breeder is

no longer a service dog in training and therefore does not meet the criteria for full public access. And the dogs will not be allowed to go anywhere Assistance Dogs restricts SDiTs access (e.g., dog parks, pet stores, etc.). Whether it would be appropriate for the dog to go to Assistance Dogs events will be decided on a case-by-case basis by the Breeding Coordinator. It would be important to know where the girl is in her cycle and which other dogs that would be at the event, especially intake males.
The team will be assessed every 6 months. This assessment will look at the dog’s weight, health, skills, temperament and general condition.

Length of Career and Retirement

A dam may produce 3-4 litters. The number of litters is determined by the Breeding Coordinator. A dam could be in a breeder caretaker home for more than 2 years as a breeder. At the end of that time, the dog will be retired. The Breeder Caretaker will have the first right of refusal for full adoption with no adoption fee. If the breeder caretaker decides not to adopt the dog the Director, Volunteer Coordinator and Breeding Coordinator will determine the appropriate future home.

Stud Breeder Caretaker

A Breeder Caretaker for a stud dog will agree to the following:

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  • Working with the Breeding Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator to have the Stud dog transported to a vet for breeding medical tests which may include – Brucellosis testing, semen analysis and annual eye exam.
  • Following the Stud dog guidelines – feeding, medications, exercise, exposures, keeping up training – directed by Director of Training and Breeding Coordinator.
  • If the male is moved to another ADI program the Breeder Coordinator will coordinate that move with the Breeding Caretaker and the other program. In some cases, the Breeder Caretaker will transport the stud dog to the new location. This may require out of state travel. Transport can also be arranged with another Assistance Dogs volunteer arranged by the Volunteer Coordinator if needed. Approved expenses will be reimbursed (hotel, car mileage and reasonable food costs).
  • The dog may be gone for several months while breeding to multiple females.
To remain in this role, caretakers must:
  • Provide all documentation, breeding/heat logs, in a timely manner
  • Follow all Assistance Dogs training protocols

Stud Breeder Career

If the stud is successful, Assistance Dogs will determine the length of his breeding career. At the end of that time, the breeder is retired.

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  • When Assistance Dogs decides to retire the dog from his breeding responsibilities, it will be determined if the dog will be placed in a service dog working role. If the canine is being retired with no working role, the Breeder Caretaker will have the first right/or refusal for full adoption with no adoption fee. If the breeder caretaker decides not to adopt the dog the Director, Volunteer Coordinator and Breeding Coordinator will determine the appropriate future home.

Stud Public Access

The length of a stud dog’s career will be determined by the Breeding Coordinator and the Training Coordinator. Most males will have a short breeding career and then be trained and placed with a client.

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  • For this reason, they will continue to have appropriate public access as directed by the Training Coordinator and the Breeding Coordinator. This will probably be focused on a limited set of public areas. But if they are marking or must wear a belly band then access will be limited per directions from the Breeding Coordinator and Training Coordinator. The Training Coordinator will have a training plan for the dog. Most will be Foundation level cues that are covered in Foundations class. The dogs will NOT be allowed to go anywhere we restrict program dogs (e.g., dog parks, pet stores etc.).
    The team will be assessed every 6 months. This assessment will look at the dog’s weight, health, skills, temperament and general condition.

Financial Responsibility

Assistance Dogs agrees to pay all medical expenses while the canine is a part of the breeding program.

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  • These expenses include veterinary care, preventative medications and supplements, and medical tests pertaining to breeding. Assistance Dogs will also reimburse for appropriate travel expenses if the caretaker transports a dog to other service dog programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q1. Can a potential Breeder Caretaker ask for a specific breed, sex or specific dog?
    Yes. But all dogs will be matched to Breeder Caretakers based on best fit not request. This is determined by the Breeding Coordinator and Training Coordinator. This includes when multiple requests are made for the same dog.
    Q2. Can a Breeder be removed from a Breeder Caretaker?
    Yes. If the Breeder Caretaker does not follow the guidelines in care (including weight), training program, house manners etc. the Breeder can be removed from the household. Assistance Dogs maintains ownership of the dog during its breeding career.
    Q3. What happens of someone doesn’t want or can’t be a Breeder Caretaker anymore?
    Assistance Dogs will arrange for care for the dog while a new Breeder Caretaker will be selected.
    Q4. Can I take the Breeder with me on vacation?
    The Breeder needs to be easily accessible for breeding purposes –both Assistance Dogs and ABC. These dogs are not to be taken on planes. The Breeding Coordinator will review each request individually taking into account the specific dog. If it is determined that the dog cannot accompany the Breeder Care taker, the Volunteer Coordinator will find a suitable sitter.
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The Ability Center

5605 Monroe Street
Sylvania, OH 43560

419-885-5733