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BRAVER Together’s BRAVER Buddies program can aid in obtaining a furry friend to help you through the day.  Research has shown that pets, emotional support animals, and service dogs can help to alleviate stress, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and be trained in tasks specific to a person’s needs or disability.

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A pet is an animal that is kept as a companion.  They are easily obtainable and can be any variety of species.


An emotional support animal is a pet that has been prescribed by a qualified mental health professional.  The prescribing therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, physician, or social worker must determine and certify that the presence of the animal is needed for the mental health of the patient.   ESAs are NOT protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act and do not have to be permitted into businesses or while traveling.



A service dog is a dog that has been specifically trained to perform a task or job related to the person’s disability.  The task is not something that is performed instinctively, but something that is taught to the dog to perform in specific situations.

Like an ESA, a service dog must be prescribed by a qualified individual.  These dogs, however, are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and are allowed to accompany their owners everywhere, without discrimination.  “Disability” is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.  The ADA also limits the species specifically to dogs, though does not limit breed. 



Through the BRAVER Buddies program qualified applicants can have the fees for their prescribed ESA or service dog covered by BRAVER Together.

For emotional support animals, approved applicants will be provided a voucher to take to our participating partner shelters, which will cover the cost of their adoption fee.  If the applicant finds an animal through a non-partnering shelter, you may ask if they would accept the voucher and encourage them to contact us to explain the program.  If you find an animal at a non-participating shelter, have been preapproved, and have the available funds to adopt you may submit the adoption invoice for reimbursement.

Service dogs can be obtained through different means.  Once approved, BRAVER Buddies will work with you to find an available service dog, organization that will train one for you, or an organization that will help train your current dog as a service animal.  BRAVER Together will cover the cost of the dog, but please note that service dog training takes a significant amount of time and commitment on the part of the owner, whether having a dog trained for you or learning how to train your own dog.  You must work with BRAVER Together through each step of the process and cannot simply go out and find your own dog, unlike the emotional support animal program.

With either program, BRAVER Buddies is qualifying you for having a need for the ESA or service dog and many shelters and rescue organizations have their own criteria and qualifications for adopting.  The BRAVER Buddies program approval does not automatically qualify you for adoption with their organizations.  You will still need to meet their requirements in order to adopt, if any,


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