FAQs: Applying for a Service Dog
What type of service dogs do you train?
We train dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injuries, asthma alert, and children and teens on the autism spectrum and other neurocognitive disabilities.
How do I get a service dog from ACTS?
You will start by completing an application. Once you have completed the application and submitted it to us, we will schedule an interview with you.
Once we have interviewed you, our team will determine if we can meet your needs and if we are a good fit for one another. If the answer is yes, we will send you an acceptance letter and put you on our waiting list. If the answer is no, we will send you a letter explaining why we cannot accept you as a client.
Once you are accepted, the wait time will depend on the program in which you are participating. Please note wait times are generally three months to five years.
When we think we have a dog for you, we will ask you to come to our facility and meet the dog. If you and your dog love each other, then we consider that a match and prepare for placement class. If you don’t feel like the dog is the right fit for you, or the dog seems uncomfortable for any reason, we will keep looking for another match for you.
Animals Called to Service has four types of training programs:
- Veteran Services: This program is for veterans with post-traumatic stress (PTS). The ACTS trainer works with the dog for six–twelve months. We will teach how to work with your dog, take care of your dog and go on public outings via online training program. We offer lifetime support for all of our dogs, so if any issues arise, we will help you address them.
- Service to Youth: This program is for children in need of a Service Animal. The ACTS trainer works with the dog for six–twelve months. We will teach how to work with your dog, take care of your dog and go on public outings via online training program. We offer lifetime support for all of our dogs, so if any issues arise, we will help you address them.
- Emotional Support Animals: This program is for anyone in need of an emotional support animal. You must have or be willing to obtain a letter from your physician stating that you would benefit from having an emotional support animal. The ACTS trainer works with the dog for three - six months. We will teach how to work with your dog, take care of your dog and go on public outings via online training program. We offer lifetime support for all of our dogs, so if any issues arise, we will help you address them
How much does it cost to get a service or support dog from ACTS?
The cost of a service or emotional support animal is free for veterans. Our program is fully funded by our rescue adopters. The costs to train a service dog starts at $3,300 up depending on the level of training that will fit your needs. If you live out of state, all travel and lodging expenses will be your responsibility. We do not have lodging on-site but we are happy to recommend lodging options.
Are there financial requirements to get a dog from ACTS?
You must be financially stable enough to provide for your dog’s needs. This includes daily needs like food and treats, pet insurance as well as emergency medical care.
How long does it take to get a dog?
Once we have interviewed and accepted you, the wait time depends on the training program in which you are participating but the typical wait is three months– five years. However if you are looking for a dog for brace and balance, have specific breed or size requirements, or need particularly challenging or complex tasks, the wait time can be longer. Please note that we are not currently accepting applications for brace and balance dogs.
I am unable to travel. Can I still get a dog from you?
Yes, we work remotely and serve all of North America.
Why type of breeds do you work with?
Many of our dogs come from rescues and shelters. Therefore we work with many different types of breeds and many mixed breed dogs. Most of our dogs are 40lbs and larger and between 6 months - 2 years old.
Can I pick what type of breed I want?
You can give us input into what type of dog you would like, but there is no way for us to guarantee a specific breed of dog. If you are very particular about what type of dog you want, the wait time can increase dramatically.
Can you train a dog I currently own as a service dog?
No, we cannot train dogs that are currently owned by individuals. If you want to train your personal dog, please visit assistancedogsinternational.org to find a program that can help.
Can I purchase a dog for you to train?
No, we cannot accept dogs to train for specific individuals. Our selection process is extremely rigorous and the likelihood of a dog you choose meeting our criteria is slim. Additionally, if we accept a dog that is slated for you specifically, then that would mean bypassing the waiting list and receiving a dog from us long before others who have been waiting for their dog.
Do you train dogs for post-traumatic stress (PTS)?
Yes we train service or emotional support animals for people with PTS.
Do you train dogs for other psychiatric disorders?
We only train service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress (PTS). We do not train dogs for any other psychiatric disabilities. If depression or anxiety are a part of your physical disability, we will not disqualify you. However if you have a significant or severe mental health disorder, it may disqualify you from getting a dog from us.
Do you train therapy dogs?
We do train therapy dogs for therapists and mental health professionals for use in their practice. ACTS therapy dogs are trained to work with a professional therapist (psychiatrist, psychologist, occupational therapist, etc) to act as a therapeutic partner in their practice. A therapy dog is not meant to provide “therapy” to one single individual.
Do you train seeing eye dogs?
No, we do not train guide dogs for the blind.
Do you train hearing dogs?
No, we do not train dogs for the deaf.
Do you train diabetic alert/allergy alert/stroke detection dogs?
Yes, we do train for certain types of medical alert dogs.
I really need a type of service dog that you do not currently train. Can you make an exception for me?
Unfortunately we cannot. Training dogs for other types of service requires a different set of training skills that we are not set up to accommodate.
I see there is a background check in the application. Will you disqualify me if I have a criminal record?
Not necessarily. We take each applicant’s criminal history on a case-by-case basis. If you have a history of animal abuse or violent behavior towards people, it may disqualify you as that is a safety concern for both our dogs and our staff.
I have a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Can I still apply?
Yes you are still welcome to apply. However we ask that applicants have at least 1 year of sobriety before we will accept you onto the waiting list.
I have a pet dog/cat/bird, etc. at home. Do I need to give up my pets in order to get a service dog?
No, you do not need to get rid of any pets you currently own. We will find a dog for you that fits the current make-up of your household. However we do ask that you not ADD any new pets to your home after you have been accepted.
I really think that my friend/family member/neighbor needs a service dog. Can you convince them to apply?
No, we will not try and convince anyone that this is the right path for them. Getting a service dog is a long, arduous process.. Bringing a service dog into your home is like bringing a very smart 2 year old toddler home to live with you. If you are not 100% dedicated to the process, you will not be a successful team.
Where does your funding come from?
All of our funding comes from donations from our the ACTS Rescue program.