Paws With A Cause New Target Weight Policy

January 4, 2011 · Posted in Aging Dogs, Dog Food/Nutrition 

To my chagrin, I am facing 2011 with an all too familiar New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Mind you, this is the same New Year’s resolution that I have proclaimed every year since I became a wheelchair user at age six. As a sedentary individual with a love for food, weight is always an ongoing issue for me.

As the old year ended this weekend and I pondered my New Year’s resolutions, I received a large brown envelope in the mail from my service dog provider agency, Paws With A Cause.

You can imagine my surprise when I perused the official correspondence from PAWS declaring that Whistle must be within HIS target weight or it could jeopardize his recertification process. PAWS requires each service dog team to renew its public access certification every 18-24 months throughout the working life of an assistance dog. Although during each recertification process, I have to report Whistle’s weight, this is the first time that PAWS has declared a target weight policy. This new policy states:

The health, well-being and longevity of your Assistance Dog are dependent on keeping your dog within its target weight. Even a slight increase in weight can dramatically impact the working life of your Assistance Dog! PAWS and your veterinarian will help you monitor this for the lifetime of your dog. Certification and recertification will include verification that your dog is within their approved weight range.

Certification/recertification will be delayed if your dog is 15-20% above its target weight. Certification along with your dog’s harnesses and ID card will be removed if your dog is 20% or more over their target weight.

Whistle’s target weight is 68 pounds. 15% over would be 78 pounds and 20% would be 82 pounds. Yikes, I guess this means that Whistle has a date with the scale at our vet’s office and he will be joining me with a New Year’s weight loss resolution of his own!

I know weight is a serious issue for all beings, including humans and canines. However, this is the first time, as far as I know, that my service dog agency has declared weight management as a policy much less instituted consequences for noncompliance with this policy.

If your dog is more than 15% over its target weight, please seek veterinary counsel in determining a safe weight reduction plan. Monthly weigh-ins must be initialed by a staff member at your veterinary hospital, and the veterinary staff should scan and email or fax this form to PAWS.

Whistle is definitely not the sleek 2-year-old golden/lab that arrived almost 4 years ago. He will be six years old on April 1, 2011 and I have noticed he is not as spry as he was a year ago. He has also gained a few pounds over the years. This new policy will definitely motivate me to be more cognizant of his weight which in turn, will hopefully help me to be more cognizant of my own weight loss issues. Whistle and I both have some serious work to do to reach and maintain our target weight goals in 2011!


2 Responses to “Paws With A Cause New Target Weight Policy”

  1. Beth Myers on January 5th, 2011 11:23 am

    Dear Marcie,

    Thank you for your post on the updated PAWS weight policy! This was a step that needed to happen, as the previous policy was quite antiquated! Do you remember the target weight sheet that came with your placement paperwork and contract for Whistle? It only allowed a 5 lb gain or loss before risking losing PAWS Certification. Well, you can imagine, a 5 lb gain on a 68 lb dog like Whistle is much more reasonable than a little Papillion hearing dog gaining 5 lbs (and doubling their weight)! The percentage system will be much more fair for ALL sizes of dogs PAWS works with!

    However, I do want to clarify one thing for you and your readers. The monthly weigh-ins will only be necessary if your PAWS Assistance Dog is overweight at the time of Re-Certification. The form was sent out for informational purposes only, so that you will know what to expect at your next Re-Certification visit. Even though it is not necessary to do anything with the form at this time, it is still a good idea to keep track of your Assistance Dog’s weight so that you can catch a potential problem before it gets out of hand. I see my husband every day, so it is less apparent to me that he may have gained a few pounds over the last year! We all tend to be a little blinded when looking at the ones we love!

    If you have any further questions on the updated policy, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

    Beth Myers
    Field Rep/Client Services Liaison
    Paws With A Cause
    4646 South Division
    Wayland, MI 49348
    Toll Free: 800-253-7297
    Fax: 616-877-0248

  2. Marcie on January 5th, 2011 11:35 am

    Awesome, thank you SO much for your comments Beth! That is really helpful information. You are so right, our assistance dogs’ weight impacts their ability to work safely and effectively. It is my responsibility to maintain and monitor Whistle’s weight. I am so glad that PAWS created this policy and is working diligently to educate its recipients of the importance of weight management. And believe me, Whistle and I are working hard to make sure he is at his target weight!

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