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 or inactive military, or approaching retirement within the next 3 months
- MUST have an honorable discharge
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Reside in one of the 48 contiguous United States
- Have NO felony convictions, NO history/charges of violent crime, domestic violence, sexual offenses, animal mistreatment/abuse/neglect/cruelty, or protection orders against you
- If applicant has a past history of substance abuse (drugs and/or alcohol), a health professional must provide documentation of sobriety *Please note: minimum one (1) year sustained sobriety required
- Have no more than two other dogs at the residence
- 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
- Be able to demonstrate the physical and mental ability to consistently handle, work, and exercise a 50-80 lb service dog
- Be able to demonstrate a need for assistance for one or more of the following challenges: PTSD*, mobility assistance, or seizures. *PLEASE NOTE: If applying for PTSD assistance, it MUST be military service-connected and the applicant MUST be in current treatment with a mental health professional
- Be able to provide a safe, loving, healthy, and stable home for a service dog
- Have an appropriate family/friends support system
- Pass a phone interview with a certified service dog trainer
- Pass an in-home interview with a certified service dog trainer
- Be able to complete a rigorous training course and reside in our campus dorm in Palmetto, FL for 12 days
- Be able to maintain a relationship and communication with Southeastern Guide Dogs for the duration of the dog/handler partnership
Please be aware that an applicant with any of the following conditions is NOT eligible for our programs:
- Any applicant who has had attempts or thoughts of self-harm within the past year
- Any applicant currently receiving dialysis treatment
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 provider (full name, address, phone, fax) if requesting assistance for military service-connected PTSD
- Contact information for the applicant’s current primary care provider (full name, address, phone, fax)
- Contact information for the applicant’s current specialty care provider (full name, address, phone, fax) if the specialist is treating a condition related to the need for a service dog
- Contact information for three (3) personal references outside of your partner, immediate family, or providers (email address preferred)
- 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)
Once your application is received, you will receive a request to submit the following:
- Background check authorization form (felony convictions, history of domestic violence, sexual offenses, or animal mistreatment/abuse/neglect/cruelty are ineligible for our program)
- PCL-M/PTSD checklist (if claiming military service-connected PTSD)
- Release of health information authorization form if applicable
What is involved in the admissions process?
Our admissions process:
1. The application is received and processed. Documents and authorizations are requested from the applicant. Once received back, questionnaires are sent to applicant’s provider(s) and references via fax, email, or USPS to begin establishing the applicant’s eligibility and learn about the need(s) for a service dog.
2. Once all reports are returned and the paper file is complete, a background check will be run and the applicant’s file has its first review.
3. If the initial review is approved, a phone interview will be scheduled. Once a phone interview is passed, an in-home interview will be scheduled with the applicant.
4. If the home interview is passed the applicant is accepted into the program and notified via telephone. Approved applicants then wait to be matched with the appropriate dog by the training team and will be invited to a training class by the admissions department. When invited to class, every effort is made to provide a minimum 30-day notice prior to the class start date.
*Please note that the first phase of the application process can take several months to complete. This time frame 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 or provider 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 its dogs and training to students free of charge. The school will provide the dog, equipment, training, housing and most meals during your training. Southeastern Guide Dogs will offer your service dog high-quality food, monthly preventatives, vaccinations, and the annual veterinary wellness visit – free of charge. However, you must have the ability to financially cover your service dog’s other veterinary expenses and general expenses such as treats, toys, crate, dog bed, etc.
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 contact our Admissions Coordinator at email@example.com or 941-479-6587.