How to Get a Dog
Having a service or therapy dog could be a wonderful addition to your life. But it’s also a big responsibility. Read below to learn about the types of dogs we provide and see if you qualify. Check out the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of the page for more information.
Perhaps more than anything else, persons with disabilities want to remain as independent as possible. ADAI’s highly trained service dogs help to do just that. By assisting with everyday tasks, such as opening doors and carrying items, service dogs give a tremendous boost to self-confidence and self-reliance. Clients who are partnered with a service dog have public access rights through the Americans with Disabilities Act to take the dog with them wherever the public is allowed. At ADAI, we train each dog to perform tasks that meet the individual needs of clients both at home and in public. Here are just some of the tasks ADAI service dogs are trained to provide:
- Open doors, cupboards, refrigerators, dryers, etc.
- Retrieve cordless phones
- Activate access buttons and switches
- Tug off clothing
- Carry items
- Pick up dropped items
- Provide balance while walking
If you are interested in applying for a service dog, you may be eligible if you:
- Live within 150 miles of ADAI
- Are 12 years old or older
- Have a mobility disability (spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, etc.)
Special Needs Therapy Dog
Special needs therapy dogs are placed with children and adults as therapeutic tools to be used in the home. These dogs have been particularly beneficial for persons with qualifying disabilities such as autism and Down syndrome. The simple presence and loving nature of the dogs can help persons with special needs open up to the world around them, and the dogs’ trained tasks can be used to meet therapeutic goals such as improving speech, coordination, and social skills.
If you and/or your child is interested in applying for a special needs therapy dog, they may be eligible if they:
- Live in within 150 miles of ADAI
- Are 5 years old or older
- Have a qualifying disability (autism, down syndrome, etc.)
School Therapy Dog
School therapy dogs belong to an individual school and reside with a member of the school’s staff. The dogs offer comfort to students in counseling settings, help improve student motivation and social skills, and even provide an audience to encourage students to read. Dogs are treated as a member of the faculty and create a sense of family in the school environment.
Visit The Allie Project website to download lesson plans involving therapy dogs to be used by teachers, counselors, and schools.
If you are interested in applying for a school therapy dog, you may be eligible if the school:
- Is located within 90 miles of ADAI
- Has the support of school administration in obtaining and supporting a therapy dog
Client Services FAQ
If you meet the preliminary requirements, an application packet will be mailed to your home. This packet requests written information about you, a medical reference form, and a personal reference form. You will need to send the completed application forms and a $50 non-refundable application fee to ADAI. A staff member from ADAI will contact you for a phone interview after we have received your application. If you qualify based on the information in the application and phone interview, an in-person interview will be scheduled with our client services staff. The interview will be videotaped and reviewed by our training staff for approval. If you are approved, you will be placed on our waiting list for an assistance dog.
ADAI is a non-profit program that relies on donations, grants, and fundraisers to pay for the placement of an assistance dog. The cost to ADAI is between $25,000 and $30,000 for each dog that is placed. The cost is mostly paid by private donors and grants. The cost to the consumer ranges from $2000 to $5,000 based on a sliding fee scale.
Currently, the average wait is 12 to 24 months. The waiting list is a necessity to place the dog with the appropriate client based on the dog’s strengths and the client’s needs and environment. If you require a breed that is considered less allergenic, the wait can be longer.
ADAI uses information obtained from applications and personal interviews conducted by our staff to match the skills and qualities of each dog with the needs and desires of each client.
When ADAI determines a dog is available that fits your needs, you are notified and scheduled for team training. Team training is a two-week class for service dog clients, and five-day class for therapy dog clients. Team training consists of lectures, information, practice, and community outings with your new canine partner. This time starts the bonding process that will last a lifetime. After the first two or three days of training class, the dogs will begin spending all their time with their respective partners, returning to their hotels with them in the evening, having breakfast with them in the morning, etc. During that time, clients will assume the responsibilities for the exercising, feeding, and grooming of their dogs.
If you live out-of-town, you are required to make your own arrangements to stay at a hotel or with friends close to our Education and Training Facility in Sylvania, Ohio. A list of recommended extended stay facilities will be provided. You also need to provide your own transportation to and from our facility and for the public outing portion of our client team training.
Prior to receiving their dogs, many clients go to various individuals and groups in their community to ask for financial support. These organizations are often willing to set up fundraisers to defray travel and living expenses during training class.
No. The decision on how each client is working with his or her dog as a viable team is monitored by an ADAI staff member daily during training class. The final decision on each client’s ability to return home with the assistance dog will depend on successful graduation of the program. ADAI staff members will make that final decision.
No. After completing team training, you and your new assistance dog return home and start adjusting and learning to work together in your home, work, and school environments. The client needs to incorporate ADAI’s basic cues into a daily routine to continue regular training with his or her dog in the home and in the community. You are required to check in with our training staff on a weekly basis. A home visit is done after 30 to 45 days to help with any problem solving and issues that can arise with the dog changing environments.
After being home for 6 months, the graduates return to ADAI for a day long brush up class. At this point, the service dog graduates have their first public access test. The ADI Public Access Test is administered to determine eligibility for safe public access with the new team.
At 18 months, the second public access test will be administered. After two successful tests, the probationary period is complete and ownership is transferred to the graduate. *Only the service dogs must complete the public access test.*
After three successful yearly public access tests, the test will then be administered every other year. These bi-annual tests are required to continue public access rights for our service dog graduates.