Emma Pro 001What is an Assistance Dog?

The American’s With Disabilities (ADA) definition of “service animal” reads as follows:

A “service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.”

Furthermore, “A service dog must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.  Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service dogs under the ADA.”

How many types of Assistance Dogs are there?

There are 3 categories of Assistance Dogs for individuals with disabilities:

  • Guide Dogs, also known as Seeing Eye Dogs, are trained to guide a blind or partially blind person around obstacles to get where they need to go.
  • Hearing Dogs also known as Signal Dogs are alert to sounds that a deaf or hearing impaired individual cannot hear.
  • Service Dogs are dogs who are trained to help people with disabilities other than visual or hearing impairments. Some examples of such needs are mobility, psychiatric, and medical alert for diabetes, seizures or other conditions.

Facility dogs are trained to provide services to agencies that serve our community, such as child advocacy centers, police departments and legal services.

The FSDS trains only service and facility dogs.

What breeds does the FSDS train?

The FSDS accepts only purebred golden retrievers into training.  All dogs come from reputable breeders, with pre-screened bloodlines.  Dogs are bred for temperament, health and size.  The FSDS will select the dogs for all individuals who are seeking to train a dog for their needs.

How long is the waiting list to get a service dog?

We are now taking applications for the dogs who are expected to graduate from our program on or about May 2019.  The FSDS does not routinely place assistance dogs with individuals younger than 16 years of age as a general rule. Currently certified FSDS teams in good standing who are applying for a successor dog from the FSDS are given priority over first time applicants.  “Good standing” means that the team has been functioning up to the standards set in the FSDS Code of Conduct.

Is there an application fee?

No. The FSDS does not charge an application fee.

What is the cost of obtaining a service dog?

This will depend on the individual and their record of service to our community. The total cost of temperament testing, veterinary care, food, training and other expenses associated with assistance dog training and placement is currently just in excess of $22,000. Through our training program and community donations, we are able to defray the cost associated with providing certified service / facility dogs to our community.

  • Qualifying individuals who are military veterans, active duty military, or active or veteran first responders are eligible for full funding
  • Teachers and clergy will be charged a fee to cover the cost of the dog and all veterinary care throughout the 18 mth training period, however training costs may be waived; PCP hours do not apply to this group
  • Individuals who are seeking to apply under the Pawsitive Community Program (PCP) will qualify for up to a half scholarship if they complete a minimum of 250 hours with a preapproved Arizona non-profit.

Note:  Half scholarship amount reflects that amount remaining after factoring in grants and donations that assist us in underwriting the cost per dog.  This amount may vary from one class to the next depending on available grants.

Is financial assistance available?

Additionally, the FSDS does not provide scholarship assistance for individuals who seek to obtain a dog from another program, whether it be in-state or out-of-state.  In-state residents may seek entry into the Pawsitive Community Program to earn a half scholarship for their dog, while those with a history of community service such as military or first responders are eligible for full funding.

We do not provide financial assistance for any of the following situations:

  • the purchase of a dog for training outside of the FSDS
  • veterinary expenses for service dogs
  • training expenses for another SD training program or private trainer
  • purchase of food, equipment or other essential items for a non-FSDS service dog

Those with no background of community service who do not wish to provide any community service are not eligible for the FSDS program.  This is a “Pay it Forward” Program.

Do you provide team training to individuals who want to train their own dog?

Yes.  The FSDS operates a community-based training program that is a hybrid.  We have participation from individuals on three levels:

  • individuals who are training a dog for their own need will be evaluated on a case by case basis
  • individuals, particularly youths, who are training a dog for someone else in need
  • Individuals who lack the physical ability to train a dog, but attend as a partner with a youth who will train their dog

How do I apply for a service dog from the FSDS?

Please visit our Apply for a dog page to download a copy of the application form.  Please note that we do not provide service dogs to out-of-state residents.

Who is eligible to become a student trainer?

Applications to become a student trainer are accepted from individuals who are teenage or older.  Student trainers learn to become a SD trainer by training a dog under supervision from start to finish.  Adults from the community are eligible as well as teens.

Do you charge tuition to become a student service dog trainer in your program?

The FSDS has created a community-based training program that allows individuals to participate in our training program. Though the classroom training does not carry a fee, there is a $250 fee to complete the online didactic training component, and students are responsible for all routine expenses such as food, exercise toys and treats, incidental veterinary expenses that are non-covered  (FSDS covers all vaccines, spay/neuter, preventive medications, etc.).

What is Outreach Certification?

The Outreach Certification Program is primarily designed to provide a credible means of certification for individuals who do not reside within geographic proximity to a training program, and have trained as a team with a private dog trainer.  The FSDS maintains a network or qualified evaluators across the United States, who are available to provide in-person testing.  Video-taped tests are not permitted.