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Impact of COVID-19 on Service Dog Organizations

By Danny Benbassat, Abigail Konopasky, Michael Fox

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The 2019 coronavirus pandemic led to federal, state, and local measures that paralyzed businesses across the nation. Among them were behavioral and mental health nonprofit organizations. The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of the pandemic on nonprofit programs that train and place service dogs with veterans/service members. Six service dog managers completed eight reflection probe questionnaires and participated in three focus groups. This study found that facility shutdown, businesses shutdown, and social distancing resulted in a training bottleneck for both canines and humans. These primary challenges created secondary and tertiary challenges that mirror and lend support to themes found in other studies, namely funding, welfare, and space. In addition to these challenges, managers found opportunities in the face of adversity, namely partnerships, flexibility, and innovation. This study also adds 45 specific opportunities as a practical guide for animal-assisted activities managers. The authors hope that this guide will introduce innovative solutions to improve normal operations and help mitigate the consequences of future crises.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2023
Publication Title People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice
Volume 6
Issue 1
Pages 17
URL https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/paij/vol6/iss1/8/
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal roles
  3. Covid-19
  4. Dogs
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  7. Service animals
  1. open access