Founded in 2016, the mission of Exceptional Sidekick Service Dogs in Newtown, CT is to transform lives by identifying, raising, and training exceptional Psychiatric Service Dogs to match -- at no cost -- with children and adults suffering from psychiatric disabilities, while engaging and educating the community in the process. The two-year Exceptional Sidekick psychiatric service dog training method involves Newtown schools, teachers and students who are an integral part of raising and socializing the dogs as a community, and educating their peers about mental illness.
A Community Process:
Through Exceptional Sidekick Service Dogs in Newtown, each puppy is first placed with a volunteer family committed to providing a safe and loving home, socializing the dogs, and attending classes at The Exceptional Pet in Newtown.
When the puppies are 4 to 6 months old, Exceptional Sidekick Service Dogs matches each with a volunteer local teacher and their family for the next year and a half, during which the teacher regularly brings the dog to their school. Research shows that having a dog in the classroom, even without direct physical contact, can promote positive social interaction, increase concentration, and reduce stress and anxiety. Students also learn about the dog’s purpose of ultimately serving someone with a psychiatric disability, and are educated about the needs of people struggling with mental illness.
In 2017, Exceptional Sidekick Service Dogs will launch a Teen Trainer Program with Newtown High School, which will take the organization’s mission to involve the community one step further. A group of students identified by school counselors will be assigned to the dogs at intervals throughout the school day, and have the opportunity to train them. Students will also be required to participate in workshops about mental illness.
Founded by leading dog behavior expert and trainer Abby Hill, Exceptional Sidekick Service Dogs is the only non-profit organization in the area that offers psychiatric service animals to civilians.
The organization is focused on raising the best possible psychiatric service dogs through classes and exposure in the real world. This process insures that they are ready to be successfully matched-----at no cost with a handler and transform their life while giving a community the chance to be an integral part of the process and break down the stigma of mental illness.
Exceptional Sidekick Service Dogs is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and solely depends on donations(link to donations page)to operate. The cost of adopting, raising, training and providing proper healthcare for these dogs for the first two years of their life prior to placement is approximately $25,000 per dog.
Want to get involved?
There are so many different ways you can help us in our mission. Check out the links below.
The Exceptional Sidekick is a non-profit organization that transform lives by identifying, raising, and training exceptional Psychiatric Service Dogs to match -- at no cost -- with children and adults suffering from psychiatric disabilities, while engaging and educating the community in the process.
Copyright 2017 The Exceptional Sidekick Service Dogs