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Southeastern Guide Dogs: Service Dog Application

Welcome to the Southeastern Guide Dogs' Service Dog application! We are committed to providing you with exceptional customer service as you navigate our application process.

***Please carefully review all information below before beginning the application***

About our Admissions Process
1. 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 the United States
  • NO felony convictions
  • If applicant has a past history of substance abuse (drugs and/or alcohol), a health professional must provide documentation of sobriety with a 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 ability to consistently handle, work, and exercise a 50-80 lb. dog
  • Be able to demonstrate a need for assistance for one or more of the following challenges: PTSD*, light mobility assistance, retrieval. *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
  • Be available for a phone interview with a certified service dog trainer
  • Be available for an in-home interview with a certified service dog trainer
  • Be able to complete a rigorous training course and reside on our campus in Palmetto, FL for 12 days
  • Be able to maintain a relationship/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

2. Application

The applicant must complete this Service Dog Application in full.  Please have the following information available prior to starting this application:

  • Full Name and Contact Information (address/phone/fax) for the applicant's current Mental Health Provider (required for PTSD)
  • Full Name and Contact Information (address/phone/fax) for the applicant's current Primary Care Physician
  • Full Name and Email (preferred) or Mailing Address for three (3) Personal References (cannot be related to you or live in your residence)
  • Documentation of Military Service: DD-214 (must show as Honorable Discharge)
  • Be able to explain your need(s) for a service dog, intended use, and the potential benefits you anticipate by having a service dog.
Once your application is submitted, you will receive a request to submit the following:
  • Background Check Authorization Form 
  • PCL-M (if applying for PTSD)
  • Release of Health Information authorization form if applicable

3.  Admissions
Our admissions process:

   1. 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.
   3. Once all paperwork and cleared background check are received, a phone interview will be scheduled.
   4. Once a phone interview is completed and it is determined that the applicant is appropriate for the next step, an in-home interview will be scheduled with the applicant.
   5. Once the home interview is complete and it is determined that the applicants is appropriate for a service dog, the  applicant is accepted into the program and notified via telephone.
   6. 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, at minimum, a 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.

4. Training 
Our training program will require your attendance at Southeastern Guide Dogs' campus in Palmetto, FL for 12 consecutive days (2 travel days and 10 days of specialized training). During this training, students will work with our trainers to learn to navigate locations and situations similar to challenges you may experience at home. Upon completion of the training program, we will execute a temporary transfer of ownership agreement which will temporarily transfer ownership of the dog from Southeastern Guide Dogs to you. This temporary agreement is for one year. If, after one year, there are no concerns with the team, ownership will become permanent. 

5. Costs
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

6. Transportation
Once accepted, the applicant is responsible for transportation to and from our Palmetto, FL campus. If this creates a hardship, we may be able to assist you with your transportation needs. If the applicant is flying, we will provide transportation to and from our Palmetto campus from three local airports - Tampa (TPA), St Petersburg (PIE) and Sarasota (SRQ).

Please complete the required fields of the application thoroughly. Providing fax numbers for providers and email addresses for references is appreciated and will move along the paperwork collecting process more efficiently. 

Information collected is strictly confidential and is used only for the purposes of establishing eligibility and identifying the most qualified dog for your particular needs.

Please note, the application could take up to 30 minutes. We recommend you have all contact information for your providers and references handy to reduce time spent. 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 an email with a link to return to that exact page and finish. You must have a valid email address to complete this application. We greatly appreciate your time and dedication to this application process!