Shelter to Service

Military Dog

The Erie Humane Society is proud to support the Veterans residing in the Erie community. We understand the many sacrifices these veterans have made for our country’s safety and the hardships they experience.

An estimated 20% of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD and/or depression. When Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are factored into the equation, the percentage of veterans suffering from debilitating symptoms such as severe social anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and hyper vigilance, is much higher. This is where we want to help. The Erie Humane Society is proud to offer a grass roots initiative, the “Shelter to Service” program, by awarding a military veteran a highly trained service dog to provide support and companionship for their every-day life.

Service dogs are chosen for their solid temperaments, calm demeanor and ability to serve under pressure. Many are also highly intuitive and selected for their potential to bond so deeply they can alert their veteran to issues such as seizures, migraines or debilitating shifts in mood before the veteran even knows what’s happening.  

Interested in our program and applying for a Service Dog? 

Please click below to complete the eligibility application.

Meet Our Next Service Dog

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8 Months

Lab/Hound Mix

Neutered Male

The Erie Humane Society is thrilled to formally introduce our next Shelter to Service Dog in training -- Sheldon! Sheldon is an 8-month old lab/hound mix. He came to our shelter on a rescue mission from Alabama.

Sheldon and his 10 siblings were the result of an accidental litter, and were surrendered to an Alabama shelter when they were 8 weeks old. The shelter was already overcrowded and immediate placement for Sheldon and his siblings was critical. The Erie Humane Society committed to rescuing Sheldon and his litter, and they made their way to Erie for the opportunity to find their own families.

Sheldon was selected early on as a potential candidate for Shelter to Service by our trainer and our kennels manager, based on his calm temperament and well-rounded personality. Sheldon was then placed into foster care with his puppy handlers where he began the socialization phase and basic obedience of his service training.

At 8 months, Sheldon is an excellent trainee, with his own special set of skills to offer his potential veteran. Sheldon is a very happy and active boy, but he also has a very calming and peaceful presence. He loves to show his affection, and enjoys being in the company of the people around him.

We are officially accepting applications for qualified veterans to be considered for Sheldon. We are grateful to our community for the continued support of our Shelter to Service program and look forward to matching Sheldon with a local veteran, in need of a Service Dog.

Meet the Trainer

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Sean Weese joined the team at the Erie Humane Society in 2014 as one of our Kennel Attendants. In 2016, he was promoted to Assistant Shelter Manager, but Sean's true passion was canine behavior and training. Our Executive Director recognized Sean's aptitude and potential, and successfully secured grant funding for Sean to pursue his Canine Behavior Certification, as well as his Training certification.

In Sean's role as Canine Behavior Specialist/Trainer, he works with dogs who need specialized help including socialization, basic obedience training, and behavior modification for certain types of aggression. For the past several months, Sean has completed his course work to become a certified dog trainer, and has worked along side his mentor for field training and observation. 

Prior to working at the shelter, Sean expressed that he didn't have a clear path on what he wanted to do with his career, but now, he can't imagine working anywhere else. Sean is passionate about canine behavior and training because he is able to devote time to helping dogs that others may not have the skills or knowledge to be able to help these special needs.

Application Process

Applying for a service dog can be time consuming, but we are here to help you through the process. Fill out our initial needs assessment form below. Once we verify that you are eligible, we will send you a formal application.

There is no fee to apply for our service. Please note, sending in the full application does not mean the applicant is automatically approved; it MUST go before the Humane Society’s review team to be approved.

Following the application review process, the applicant will be notified within thirty days that their application was either accepted or denied. Once the application is tentatively approved, the time-frame, from start until actual receipt of a service dog can be anywhere from nine to twelve months.

Service Dog Fees

The cost to train a service dog can be up to $20,000. This includes home visits as well as public access testing and certification. 

We work to match the “right dog” with the “right person” so they can be a team for life. The matching process begins when the candidate is notified of the application approval. Once a dog is adopted or donated that is suitable for the veteran, the dog will then be trained to meet the needs of its new partner.

Additional Information Required:

  • DD214 - Honorable Discharge
  • Must have completed over 5 years of active duty and have been in a combat zone
  • Valid PA State Driver's License
  • Must live within Erie County (800 square mile radius)

Scout - Awarded August 10, 2019

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In September 2018, the Erie Humane Society rescued four dogs that were at risk of being euthanized from a shelter in Aiken County, South Carolina; one of which was expecting puppies.

On September 25th, 2018, Scout and his seven siblings were born. Scout was chosen by our Canine Behavior Specialist/Trainer, Sean Weese, based on temperament and personality.

Sean spent the next 10 months raising Scout, and training him on the various skills he would need to master to pass his Canine Good Citizen exam. 

In the early summer of 2019, Scout was matched with his veteran, Barry. Barry participated in regular training sessions with Scout and Sean so that he and Scout could begin to form their bond as well as fine tune Scout's skills to meet Barry's needs.

Scout was proudly awarded to Barry officially on August 10th, 2019, at EHS's Rock & Rescue Charity Concert. Scout and Barry are a perfect match for each other, and we are so proud of Scout's accomplishments since going home. He successfully passed his AKC Canine Good Citizens exam and he and Barry have formed an incredible bond.

We are proud to partner with the Veterans Miracle Center & the below Erie Insurance Agents on this project.

ERIE Insurance “Erie Branch” Agents

  • AAdvantage Insurance Services Inc.
  • Armstrong Insurance Agency
  • Bayline Insurance Agency
  • Bittel & Company
  • Bock Insurance Agency
  • Bort Insurance Services, LLCC
  • Calvert-Pearson Insurance Group
  • Carrier Insurance Agency, Inc.
  • Cheryl Mitchell Insurance
  • Clapper Insurance Agency Inc.
  • Cronk & Wisniewski Insurance Agency
  • Drushel and Kolakowski Insurance Agency
  • Duane Jackson Insurance, Inc.
  • Eades Insurance Agency
  • Eshenbaugh Insurance, LLC.
  • Foradora Insurance
  • Franklin Insurance Agency Inc.
  • George C Fox Jr. Insurance Agency, Inc.
  • Great Lakes Insurance Services Group, LLC
  • Hamilton Insurance Agency
  • Historic Square Agency
  • Hoak Insurance Services
  • Jacque Perry Insurance, Inc.
  • John E Hollock
  • Kalchthaler Insurance Agency Inc.
  • Kriner Insurance Group, Inc.
  • Lafaro Insurance Agency
  • Laskowski Insurance Agency
  • Miller Phillips Insurance Inc.
  • Minich Insurance Agency Inc.
  • Morton-Moore Insurance Agency, Inc.
  • Murray Insurance Agency
  • Northshore Insurance Agency, LLC
  • Pedersen Insurance, Inc.
  • Pfeffer Insurance Agency
  • Pratt Insurance Agency, LLC
  • Ralph C Mehler Agency Inc
  • Reinhardts Agency Inc.
  • Rossbacher Insurance Service, Inc.
  • Saint Mary Insurance Agency, Inc.
  • Samuel P. Black & Associates, Inc.
  • Sarvey Insurance
  • Siegel Insurance, Inc.
  • Sitter Insurance, LLC
  • Straub Insurance Agency, Inc.
  • W E Swanson Agency, Inc.
  • Werle & Rushe Agency
  • Williams Agency
  • R H Rutkowski Insurance Agency, Inc.
  • Rodgers & Company Insurance Agency Inc.
  • The West Agency
  • Turner Insurance Agency Inc.
  • Williamson Insurance, Inc.