My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Starfleet Service Dogs, Inc., Cabin John, MD, USA
I had been searching for a service dog organization for years and had been saving thousands of money for a service dog. Many organizations offer service dogs for a ridiculous price up to $30,000. I was a college student with a disability and no matter how many hours I worked, I couldn't save enough money to make that amount. Somehow, I came across Starfleet. Starfleet provides a reasonable price and one that I could afford.
The application process was pretty straight forward but I did have some problems getting medical references. Starfleet was with me to provide some solutions on how I could ask my medical team, what to say, and particular things to discuss with my providers. I have PTSD, depression, and anxiety and some of my providers in the past have disregarded the legitimacy of my illness in the past. Starfleet never questioned my disability and helped me figure out how to direct these discussions with my providers.
I originally planned on waiting for an academy-trained dog, but the team suggested that I could do the owner-assisted program. I opted for the owner-assisted program to get a service dog faster. I will admit, this program is NOT for everyone. You are very engaged in the process of getting your dog acclimated to the service dog life. After picking a dog that's passed the temperament test, the first two weeks of the dog in my home was the hardest part. It was extremely overwhelming and caused me to have panic episodes. I was going to give up on myself but the Starfleet team didn't give up on me. They took the dog to a trainer's place to work on the dog's rehabilitation period and get him to a state that I felt I was ready to take him back. Meanwhile, a trainer (Alexa) worked with me to teach me what it was like to be a handler. I was able to handle the trainer's service dog, participate in training sessions, and go to public places. This was so life-changing for me because it taught me so much of what it meant to be a handler and how beneficial it could be for my life. This was a pretty long process so I am forever grateful to the team's patience in helping me gain confidence as a handler and in getting me ready for a service dog.
Once I received my dog, I ran into multiple problems again. The Starfleet team was always there for me through Messenger and always gave detailed responses, suggestions, and advice. It could be late in the night or the morning--someone would read my message and help me. As the problems with my dog persisted, I tried everything that I could that the Starfleet team suggested. Unfortunately, it was clear that the situation was worsening. My dog was getting increasingly stressed and was withdrawing. I was very emotional and afraid to discuss with the Starfleet team, but I spoke with one of the trainers (Ashley) during our virtual training session and she was very compassionate and empathetic. After some time, the Starfleet team deemed my dog and I unfit as a team because our lifestyles were incompatible. I was very ashamed and disappointed in myself but the Starfleet team kept reassuring me and were very sympathetic to the situation.
I know that the previous me would have completely given up by now and considered this as a massive failure. However, with the individual handler training from the trainer (Alexa) and the Starfleet team's immense support, I have the emotional strength and stamina to continue. Even though I am very early on in the service dog process and have experienced many trials and tribulations, I am hopeful for the next service dog candidate. I know that my feelings and newfound confidence now would not have been the same if I went with another service dog organization.