Service Animals of Mississippi


This is an archived program and therefore, may not contain current information.


The University of Southern Mississippi
Institute for Disability Studies partners with
the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities for
Service Animals of Mississippi Program (SAM)

October 1,2011 through December 31,2011

The Institute for Disability Studies and the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities have established a partnership for continuation of Service Animals of Mississippi (SAM) through December 31, 2011. Project Sam will continue to develop and implement inclusive formal and informal community support options for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

The partnership provides for continued training and placement of service animals for individuals with disabilities, community outreach – information and support for the public as well as promoting the use of service dogs for community access, and seminars for university students interested in working in disciplines related to the area of disabilities.

About SAM

Service Animals of Mississippi (SAM) provides trained service, therapy and companion dogs for children, youth and adults with disabilities. Working in conjunction with LIFE of Mississippi, the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) will provide training, placement and follow-up of up to 10 assistance dog teams during the first year of the grant. Grant funding is provided by the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities, a sister agency to IDS.


SAM goals are to increase the independence, productivity and community participation/inclusion of individuals with disabilities by providing professionally trained assistance dogs that will form a lifetime bond with the consumer, public awareness information and advocacy, and follow-along support services that ensure the welfare of the consumer, dog and the public.

Applicant interview is based on standards and requirements developed by project staff and the SAM Advisory Council. The specific needs of each individual as well as the capabilities and temperament of the dog are considered in matching consumers to dogs in order to form lifelong partnerships. Volunteer puppy raiser families will raise puppies for the first year, teaching basic obedience and socialization in public and private environments. When a puppy is ready for formal training, the dog will be placed with the trainer for specific task training. Dogs are carefully matched to recipients - a process called team formation - based on task requirements, lifestyle and personal traits. The team is trained and evaluated during the final training phase. Teams are followed for a minimum of 1 year after placement to assure success and support the lifelong partnership of the assistance dog team. Recipients have access to support and resources as needed following the 12 month post-placement period.

Any and all dogs placed through SAM must be returned to SAM in the event the dog cannot remain with or be cared for by the recipient. An Emergency Recovery policy is implemented to retrieve a dog that can no longer be cared for by the recipient.

The outreach portion of SAM includes a program to provide reduced veterinary care fees for service animals and a public awareness and resource center for all consumers.

The Advisory Council provides input for training, selection, placement of dogs as well as evaluation of the program. The council includes veterinarians and consumers who review evaluation data to assure that activities across program goals and objectives are responsive to current issues in the field, meet consumer needs and ultimately have a positive impact on the lives of consumers.



Links - Service animal and disability-related organizations and agencies

Americans with Disabilities - ADA Web site
Amendments - Americans with Disabilities ACT Title II
Assistance Dog United Campaign
Assistance Dogs International - ADI
Canine Companions for Independence
Canine Companions for Life
Delta Society
Disability Rights Mississippi - Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Disabilities
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners - IAADP
Land of PureGold Foundation
Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities (MSCDD)
Mississippi Department of Mental Health
Mississippi University Center on Developmental Disabilities, Institute for Disability Studies
Morris Service Dog Program
Puppies 'n Dogs
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families

Document resources

SAM application
SAM Foster Application
SAM Obedience
SAM Program handout
ADA Business Brief
ADA Commonly Asked Questions About Service Animals

Other links

Doctors Foster and Smith - WARNING - Chocolate and Dogs Don't Mix Well

KSL News: Dogs, kids and autism - LEHI -- Utah children with autism are talking and learning to interact with adults through dogs. The highly-trained animals are opening a new door for therapy -- allowing adults, often for the first time, to enter their world.

The New York Times: Good Dog, Smart Dog - The increasingly complicated work of service dogs suggests there's more to their brain than a good nose and an instinct to please.

Today Show Video: Shelter dogs aid disabled vets

Exploring the Health Benefits of Pets - New York Times

Today Show Video: DOgs sniff peanuts for allergic kids

Shea Megale, a young, wheelchair-bound author and her dog Mercer

'Sit! Stay! Snuggle!': An Iraq Vet Finds His Dog Tuesday -

Emergency and Disaster Relief & Preparedness for People with Disabilities Partnered with Assistance Dogs - Assistance dogs are helpful for many individuals with disabilities, in addition to those who are blind or visually impaired. What happens when disaster strikes and someone who uses a service dog needs emergency shelter? Find out what is required of shelters in accommodating a service dog. Visit the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners website. 



Program Director: Dr. Jane Siders
Program Coordinator: Deborah Comeaux

Institute for Disability Studies
118 College Drive #5163
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001

Phone: 601..266.5163
TTY: 1.888.671.0051
Fax: 601.266.5114