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Southeastern Guide Dogs - Guide Dog Application

Applicant Contact Information

About our Admissions Process -

Welcome to the Guide Dog application. Southeastern Guide Dogs is committed to providing you with exceptional customer service as you navigate our application process. The information below will provide you with a clear understanding and checklist of items you will need to expedite your application process. Please review all information below thoroughly before filling out the application. Applicants may have assistance filling out the application, but must understand the information below and be able to contact us directly. Thank you!

1. Eligibility -

Degree of Visual Impairment - You must have a level of vision loss that requires you to use a primary mobility aid to ensure safe, independent travel as determined by an eye care professional.  

Age - Mature teens aged 15 – 17 may apply to our youth guide dog program, and adults 18 and up may apply to our guide dog program, with no upper age limit.

Orientation & Mobility and Independent Living Skills - You must have completed formal Orientation and Mobility training and must be able to demonstrate your ability to live, travel, and cross roads independently. If you have never had this training, please contact your local low vision rehabilitation facility to inquire and sign up for training. You will be required to enter the instructor's contact information on the application.

Need and Desire - You must have a legitimate need for assistance with traveling independently; a desire to increase and enhance your mobility and independence; and a realistic plan for use of a guide dog.

Physical Ability - You must be in good physical health; have sufficient strength, flexibility, coordination, and endurance to be a guide dog's sole handler. You also must be able to walk several blocks at a time independently, without the assistance of a walker.

Learning Ability - You must have the cognitive ability to learn dog training concepts and apply them consistently and demonstrate the abilities to work with and handle a guide dog appropriately.

Financial Ability - You must have the ability to financially cover the expenses associated with the maintenance and care of a guide dog. Southeastern Guide Dogs will offer your guide 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 guide dog’s other veterinary expenses and general expenses such as treats, toys, crate, dog bed, etc.

Home Environment - You must be able to provide a safe, loving, healthy, and stable home for a guide dog. Your home must have no more than two other dogs.

Travel Environment - Your travel routes must be safe for a guide dog team.

History - You must have no felony convictions, history/charges of violent crime, or protection orders against you.

Southeastern Guide Dogs is currently NOT accepting applications for wheelchair guides.

2. Application

The applicant must complete the following:

  1. List of Providers Section - Primary Care Physician, Eye/Low Vision Physician, Orientation & Mobility Instructor
  2. Personal References Section - Three individuals who know the applicant - Email preferred
  3. E-Signed Consent Form

* If applicant is claiming Veteran status, please also provide a copy of your DD-214 during the admissions process.

* If applicant is currently being treated by a mental health professional, we may require additional contact information for that doctor.

In addition to the completion of the application, all applicants must:

• Successfully complete a criminal background check. The applicant will be emailed a link to start their background check during the application process (applicants who have been convicted of a felony or any type of violence-related crime will not qualify for our services)

• Undergo an in-home interview to be conducted by a Southeastern Guide Dogs’ staff member once the applicant has passed the initial paperwork phase.

3. Acceptance

Once the application and the in-home interview processes are complete, an evaluation will be conducted by a three-person Admissions Committee. Once the committee has formally accepted the applicant to the program, the applicant will be contacted by the Admissions Department.

For applicants that do not meet eligibility requirements, the Admissions Department may deny service via letter at any time during the application process.

Please note that the entire application process can take up to one year. During this time, if you experience a change in any contact information, please advise the admissions department as soon as possible so that we may keep your information current.

4. Training Time

Once a dog has been matched to an approved applicant by the training department, he/she is notified and invited to a twenty-one (21) day training course at our Palmetto, Florida training facility.

Students reside in comfortable, single-occupancy rooms. Class size usually consists of nine students being instructed by a team of three or four trainers.

5. Costs

As a non-profit 501(c)3, Southeastern Guide Dogs provides dogs and training to students free of charge. The school will provide your dog, equipment, training, housing and meals during your stay.

Southeastern Guide Dogs will offer your guide 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 guide dog’s other veterinary expenses and general expenses such as treats, toys, crate, dog bed, etc.”

6. Transportation

Once accepted and invited to class, the incoming student is responsible for travel costs to and from the school. If this will cause a hardship at the time of invite, possible flight assistance may be available upon request.

Please complete the required fields of the application thoroughly. Providing fax numbers and/or email addresses for providers and references may move along the paperwork collecting process more efficiently. If necessary, you may have someone complete the application for you, but we require that your personal signature and direct contact with you in the near future. The applicant's name must be on the e-signature line at the end of the application.

Information collected is strictly confidential and is used only to assist in initially establishing your eligibility for the program.

*Please note, the application could take up to one hour. We recommend you have all contact information for your providers, O&M instructor, and references handy to reduce time spent. Only fields marked with an asterisk are required. Applicants must enter a valid, personal email address to complete this application; however, if there is not an email address available for a provider or reference, please leave the field blank.

You may save the application at anytime and come back to it later by clicking at the top of any page and entering your email twice. You will then get a reminder email with a link to return to that exact page and finish.
Do you have plans to move within the next 6 months? 
This question requires a valid email address.