Become a Member

About HOPE Crisis Response Teams

HOPE AACR provides our service through Response Groups comprised of specially trained dog/handler teams and a Team Leader.  Team Leaders work without dogs to supervise and support the dog/handler teams and serve as the conduit for information flow in and out of the Response Group.  All our members receive certification training and participate in continuing education.

National Training and Certification Program

Our National Training and Certification Program was developed to provide crisis response training to experienced animal-assisted therapy teams. We’ve established national training standards so all our teams in each region receive the same training. Certification training workshops are typically held once per year in each of our established regions. Qualified candidates may attend a screening and workshop in any region, but are encouraged to participate at the closest location to where they live. Regardless of where one attends a workshop, each member operates out of a home region.

The purpose of certification training is to help qualified candidates acquire skills necessary for assisting people affected by traumatic events. Training is taught in a supportive manner, giving every opportunity for both handler and canine to succeed. Emphasis is placed on achieving a balance between learning necessary skills and the welfare and safety of each team.

We are committed to the mission of HOPE, which is to bring comfort and encouragement to people affected by crises and disasters. One way we demonstrate this commitment to the mission is to continually improve our training program.

Click here to learn more about our certification training program. and Workshop Dates and Locations

Prerequisites for Membership

To become a Certified Member with a canine partner:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age at the time of the screening evaluation.
  • Your dog must be at least 18 months old at the time of the certification training workshop.
  • You and your dog be be a registered member of a formal animal-assisted therapy organization.
  • You and your dog must have a minimum of 12 verifiable AAA/T visits within the last twelve months.
  • You and your dog must successfully complete a HOPE AACR screening evaluation.
  • You and your dog must successfully complete a certification training workshop.
  • Your dog should not be easily stressed and should enjoy interacting with people.
  • You should be in good health and be capable of handling the physical and mental stress of crisis response work.
  • Your dog should be in good health and have sufficient energy levels adequate for crisis response work.
  • Pay all fees related to screening and training workshop, membership fees, and purchase all necessary uniform items.

To become a Certified Member without a canine partner (Team Leader):

  • You must be at least 18 years of age at the time of the screening evaluation.
  • You should have some experience in animal-assisted therapy or some other experience working with dogs.
  • You must successfully complete a HOPE AACR screening evaluation.
  • You must successfully complete a certification training workshop.
  • You should be in good health and be capable of handling the physical and mental stress of crisis response work.
  • Pay all fees related to screening and training workshop, membership fees, and purchase all necessary uniform items.

Maintaining Membership

To maintain membership in HOPE AACR, certified members must fulfill the following:

  • Pay annual membership dues and submit required renewal information & forms.
  • Certified Members with dogs must submit annual canine veterinary health documentation.
  • Maintain active registration with formal animal-assisted therapy organization.
  • Make at least 12 verifiable AAA/T visits per year.
  • Maintain certifications in human First Aid & CPR, and Pet First aid.
  • Participate in continuing education opportunities through-out the year.
  • Attend the required number of group training exercises, drills, and/or responses each year.

Testimonials From Members About Their Experiences

“Both dogs were magnificent. We put them in a down-stay position and allowed the kids to say their enthusiastic hellos. The children were touching and pulling and petting and stroking. I counted seven hands on Brinkley at one instant in time.”
— Response, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, Louisiana

“This work is so rewarding….and our dogs can do so much to help folks on their way to healing and coping with a minimum of intervention…”
— Response, death of a firefighter, Independence, Oregon

“Our dogs act as a bridge, an ice-breaker, to allow people to talk about their personal tragedies in a safe environment, and thus begin the healing & recovery process…they gave the firefighters a comfortable way to relieve their stress and exhaustion…”
— Response, San Bernardino Wild Fires, California

“Every adult present, both before and after the dogs’ arrival, felt the dog teams were invaluable in diffusing the children’s high emotions. The dogs did a beautiful job and were very gentle with the children.”
— Response, accidental shooting of a student, Bozeman, Montana

Please see our Calendar page for information about when an open house, screening, and workshop may be held in your area.

If you are interested in joining HOPE AACR, please complete our online Membership Information Form (click here).