SANDERS CENTER K9: Psychiatric Service Dogs

Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD) are service dogs individually trained to perform tasks which mitigate the psychiatric disabilites of their disabled partners. The Sanders Center proudly partners with the Haley Graves Foundation to provide qualifying disabled veterans and first responders with their own PSD and training. K9 Director Brian Ezell is a veteran law enforcement K9 handler with extensive experience in dog training for his agency and our K9/PSD Committee's talented volunteers also boast a great deal of training experience.  The Sanders Center only provides PSDs to military or first responders.

There has been some confusion and debate regarding PSDs.  First, let's clarify the difference between a therapy dog and a psychiatric service dog. A therapy dog is an individual's pet which has been trained, tested, registered, and insured to work in hospital, nursing home, school, or other institutional setting.  The therapy dog and his partner visit to cheer patient, to educate the community, to counter grief and stress, and generally be good canine ambassadors within the community.  Most therapy dog partners are volunteers, but some states recognize professional therapy dogs partnered with therapists and other mental health professionals.  Therapy dogs are not service dogs (Service Dog Central, 2014).

Under U.S. law, persons with therapy dogs are NOT granted the right to enter businesses that do not permit pets with their therapy dogs unless they receive prior permission from the business.  This includes the hospitals and organizations they visit with their therapy dogs.  They are not allowed to fly in the cabins of aircraft because they are therapy dogs. nor do they get to live in "no pets" housing because they are therapy dogs (Service Dogs Central, 2014).

Dogs used for emotional support that are not task-trained are called emotional support animals (ESA). They are not PSDs or any other kind of service dog, though they are grouped with service dogs in housing laws and laws governing commercial aircraft (Service Dogs Central, 2014).

If you are interested in applying for a PSD, our application process is currently closed while we construct facilities.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions. Please check back with us for a change in application status.

Contact K9 Director Brian Ezell at or Executive Director Julia Murray Ezell at