Shelter to Service

Military Dog

The Erie Humane Society is proud to support the Veterans residing in the Erie community. We understand the many sacrifices these veterans have made for our country’s safety and the hardships they experience.

An estimated 20% of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD and/or depression. When Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are factored into the equation, the percentage of veterans suffering from debilitating symptoms such as severe social anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and hyper vigilance, is much higher. This is where we want to help. The Erie Humane Society is proud to offer a grass roots initiative, the “Shelter to Service” program, by awarding a military veteran a highly trained service dog to provide support and companionship for their every-day life.

Service dogs are chosen for their solid temperaments, calm demeanor and ability to serve under pressure. Many are also highly intuitive and selected for their potential to bond so deeply they can alert their veteran to issues such as seizures, migraines or debilitating shifts in mood before the veteran even knows what’s happening.  

Interested in our program and applying for a Service Dog? 

Please click below to complete the eligibility application.

Meet the Service Dog

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This past September, the Erie Humane Society rescued four dogs that were at risk of being euthanized from a shelter in Aiken County, South Carolina. After they arrived, it was determined that one of the dogs, Bree, was expecting a litter of puppies!

Bree was placed with a foster, and settled in to prepare for the arrival of her litter. On Tuesday, September 25th, we received word that Bree had welcomed 8 healthy puppies; 4 boys and 4 girls.

It was determined that our special pup would be chosen, by our Canine Behavior Specialist/Trainer, from this litter, and then trained to become a service dog. Based on temperament and personality, this little guy was our "chosen one".

Meet the Trainer

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Sean Weese joined the team at the Erie Humane Society in 2014 as one of our Kennel Attendants. In 2016, he was promoted to Assistant Shelter Manager. But Sean's true passion was canine behavior and training. Our Executive Director recognized Sean's aptitude and potential, and successfully secured grant funding for Sean to pursue his Canine Behavior Certification, as well as his Training certification.

In Sean's role as Canine Behavior Specialist/Trainer, he works with dogs who need specialized help including socialization, basic obedience training, and behavior modification for certain types of aggression. For the past several months, Sean has completed his course work to become a certified dog trainer, and has worked along side his mentor for field training and observation. 

Prior to working at the shelter, Sean expressed that he didn't have a clear path on what he wanted to do with his career, but now, he can't imagine working anwhere else. Sean is passionate about canine behavior and training because he is able to devote time to helping dogs that others may not have the skills or knowledge to be able to help these special needs.

During the course of training, our service pup will live with Sean's family and make regular appearances at the shelter.

Application Process

Applying for a service dog can be time consuming, but we are here to help you through the process. Fill out our initial needs assessment form below. Once we verify that you are eligible, we will send you a formal application.

There is no fee to apply for our service. Please note, sending in the full application does not mean the applicant is automatically approved; it MUST go before the Humane Society’s review team to be approved.

Following the application review process, the applicant will be notified within thirty days that their application was either accepted or denied. Once the application is tentatively approved, the time-frame, from start until actual receipt of a service dog can be anywhere from nine to twelve months.

Service Dog Fees

The cost to train a service dog can be up to $20,000. This includes home visits as well as public access testing and certification. 

We work to match the “right dog” with the “right person” so they can be a team for life. The matching process begins when the candidate is notified of the application approval. Once a dog is adopted or donated that is suitable for the veteran, the dog will then be trained to meet the needs of its new partner.

Additional Information Required:

  • DD214 - Honorable Discharge
  • Must have completed over 5 years of active duty and have been in a combat zone
  • Valid PA State Driver's License
  • Must live within Erie County (800 square mile radius)

We are proud to partner with the Veterans Miracle Center on this project.