Find the answers to your questions below!
How do I know if I qualify for a service dog?
Eligibility: In order to qualify for our service dog program, the applicant must:
- Be retired, inactive Military, or approaching retirement within the next 6 months
- MUST have Honorable Discharge
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Reside in one of the 48 contiguous United States
- Have NO felony convictions, history/charges of violent crime, or protection orders against you
- Have the cognitive ability to learn training concepts and apply them consistently
- Have the financial ability to cover the expenses associated with the proper maintenance and care for the life of a service dog, including food, monthly preventatives, and veterinary expenses
- Be able to provide a safe, loving, healthy, and stable home for a service dog
- Pass an in-home interview with a certified service dog trainer
- Be able to complete a training course and live on campus in Palmetto, FL for 11 days
- Be able to demonstrate the physical and mental ability to consistently handle and work a 50-80 lb service dog
- Have no more than two other dogs at the residence
- If applying for assistance with PTSD, it must be Military Service-Connected and the applicant MUST be in on-going treatment by a mental health professional
Please be aware that an applicant diagnosed with any of the following conditions is NOT eligible for our programs:
*Bi-Polar Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Delusional Disorder, Delirium, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia, Paranoid Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Unspecified Personality Disorder, Dementia
**If you have been diagnosed with any of the above-mentioned conditions, you may want to search for another program that places/specializes in psychiatric service dogs at www.assistancedogsinternational.org
In addition, if you have had attempts or thoughts of self-harm within the past year you do not qualify at this time.
What do I need to do to get a service dog?
Applicants must complete our Service Dog Application in full. This application includes:
- Contact information for the applicant’s current mental health care provider
- Contact information for the applicant’s current primary care physician
- Contact information for three (3) personal references
- Consent form
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) checklist, when applicable – military
- Documentation of military service (an official memo signed by applicant’s commanding officer is required of active duty servicemen/women; or a copy of DD-214 is required for retired/separated/inactive servicemen/women)
What is involved in the admissions process?
Our admissions process is broken down into three main phases:
- Application is processed – report/questionnaires are faxed, mailed, or emailed to providers and references, and a criminal background screen is run to begin establishing the applicant’s eligibility and learn about the need for a service dog.
- Once all forms are returned, the applicant’s file has its first review before moving forward to an in-home interview with a trainer.
- If accepted into the program, applicants are notified and then wait to be matched with the appropriate dog and invited to a training class.
Please note that the initial phase of the application process can take several months to complete. This timeframe depends on many factors, such as the accuracy of contact information provided by the applicant and speed of paperwork submission by providers and references. In the meantime, if you experience a change in your contact information, please advise admissions as soon as possible so that we may keep your information current.
If at any time during the application process, it is determined that the applicant does not qualify for the program, the applicant will be notified via letter.
How long will I have to wait for a service dog?
The waiting period varies depending on how long it takes for paperwork to be submitted and any unique requirements an individual may need from a dog. On average, the waiting period is six months to a year.
How much does a service dog cost?
Southeastern Guide Dogs provides our dogs and training to students free of charge. The school provides the dog, equipment, training, housing and most meals during your training. There may be meals off-campus which may be your responsibility, but estimate that this expense will be under $50.
Once you adopt one of our service dogs, the maintenance of your dog and all associated medical expenses become your responsibility. We estimate this cost to be between $900 and $1,200 annually.
Are there age limits for service dog handlers?
The minimum age is 18, with no maximum age. Handlers must physically be able to care for a large-breed dog, and must be able to keep up with a fairly rigorous training schedule.
How long is the service dog training?
The training class is 12 days, with travel days on day 1 and day 12.
What breeds do you use for your service dogs?
At Southeastern Guide Dogs, we breed Labradors, golden retrievers, and a mix of the two called a goldador.
What if I have additional questions? Who do I contact?
For additional questions or concerns, please give us a call at 941.729.5665.