January 20, 2018

HB 16-1112: Creating a Pilot Program to Teach Veterans to Train Their Own Service Dogs

On January 20, 2016, Rep. Lois Landgraf and Sen. Larry Crowder introduced HB 16-1112 – Concerning the Creation of the Training Veterans to Train Their Own Service Dogs Pilot Program. The bill was introduced in the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee, where it passed, amended, and was referred to the Appropriations Committee.

This bill creates the Training Veterans to Train Their Own Service Dogs Pilot Program, and the Training Veterans to Train Their own Service Dogs Pilot Program Fund. The bill establishes that the Executive Director of the Department of Human Resources shall establish and post criteria, including eligibility criteria, for the Program, as well as establish guidelines and timelines for a request for proposals process to select a nonprofit entity to facilitate the Program.

The purpose of the Program is to identify and train a group of up to ten eligible veterans to pair with dogs, as identified by qualified canine trainers in conjunction with the veterans, to foster, train, and ultimately utilize the dogs as their own service or companion animals. A veteran is eligible for the program if he or she served in and was honorably discharged from the armed forces, national guard, or reserved forces, is in need of mental heath services, and received a referral to participate in the Program from a qualified mental health professional. The Program will offer those veterans who graduate from the Program the opportunity to expand the Program by identifying, fostering, and training a subsequent dog for another eligible veteran who is unable to complete one or more parts of the process due to physical limitations. The Department must establish and post eligibility criteria for the selection to the Program of veterans and canines to be used by the selected nonprofit.

The Executive Director shall establish and use a competitive request for proposals process to select a nonprofit agency to implement and operate the Program. To be eligible, the nonprofit must: be based in Colorado, generate its own revenue and reinvest the proceeds in the development of its programs, and serve the needs of the veteran population in its geographic region, for example, by offering veterans support programs. The nonprofit shall: report to the Department measurable outcomes and evaluations of those outcomes of the Program, select the veterans and canine companions, assist in conducting the Program, and provide mentoring to a participating veteran.

The Department shall report the outcomes and evaluations of the Program to a number of Committees of the State Senate and House of Representatives.

The Fund is created in the state treasury, funded by the General Assembly, for the purpose of funding the Program. The Department is authorized to seek, accept, and expend gifts and donations, from private or public sources, for the purposes of the Program.

Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.