FAQS: FSD SERVICE DOGS

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about applying for a service dog from Freedom Service Dogs. We encourage you to read through this list before filling out an application.

WHAT TYPE OF SERVICE DOGS DO YOU TRAIN?

We train dogs for persons with physical disabilities, veterans with PTS or traumatic brain injury, and children (5 years and older) and adults on the autism spectrum or with other neurocognitive disabilities.

HOW DO I GET A SERVICE DOG FROM FSD?
  1. Complete the FSD service dog application.
  2. Interview with FSD after you submit a completed application.
  3. FSD determines your eligibility. If accepted, you enter a wait period of approximately 3 to 4 years, depending on your needs.
  4. Travel to FSD to meet your dog (this is required no matter where you live) and determine your compatibility with the dog.
  5. Return to FSD for a two-week placement class that teaches you how to work with your dog. On the third week, your trainer will work with you in your home and community, regardless of where you live.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET A DOG FROM YOU?

We do not charge a fee for our dogs. If you live out of state, all travel and lodging expenses will be your responsibility.

I SEE THERE IS A FINANCIAL WORKSHEET IN THE APPLICATION. DO I NEED TO BE RICH TO GET A DOG FROM YOU?

No, but you must be financially stable enough to provide for your dog’s needs. This includes daily needs like food and treats, as well as regular veterinary visits and emergency medical care.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET MY DOG?

Once we have interviewed and accepted you, the wait time is currently 3 – 4 years.

I AM UNABLE TO TRAVEL TO DENVER. CAN I STILL GET A DOG FROM YOU?

Unfortunately, no. Traveling to our facility to meet a dog and attending the two-week placement class at our facility are both requirements of our program. We are happy to discuss your options with you and recommend service dog agencies that may be closer to where you live.

WHAT TYPE OF BREEDS DO YOU WORK WITH?

We typically work with Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, standard poodles, and mixes of these breeds.

WHERE DO YOUR SERVICE DOG CANDIDATES COME FROM?

FSD dogs are selected for temperament, health, and personality traits best suited for service dog work in order to meet the needs of the 80-plus clients on our waiting list who deserve the assistance that only a service dog can provide. FSD is in the process of implementing a small-scale breeding program and works with select breeders to obtain puppies and adult dogs. In addition, FSD receives service dog candidates from guide dog organizations that have career-change dogs, as well as organizations that donate purpose-bred puppies to nonprofits such as FSD.

CAN I PICK WHAT TYPE OF BREED I WANT?

You can give us input on the type of dog you would prefer, but there is no way for us to guarantee you a specific breed of dog. If you are very particular about what type of dog you want, the wait time could 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. It is a liability issue for the organization to have your personal dog at our facility for four to seven months.

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, accepting a dog that is slated for you specifically would allow you to bypass the waiting list and receive a dog from us long before others who have been waiting for a dog.

DO YOU TRAIN DOGS FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM?

Yes, but we have an age minimum of 5 years old. 

CAN MY CHILD WITH AUTISM TAKE THEIR DOG TO SCHOOL?

In most cases, no. For safety reasons (both for the dog and the child), we cannot allow a child to be in control of a dog in a public place without a parent or guardian present.

CAN MY CHILD WITH AUTISM BE TETHERED TO THEIR DOG?

No, we do not allow tethering. Although our dogs are extremely well trained, there are always circumstances where a dog can bolt (from fear or distraction), presenting a very unsafe situation for the child.

DO YOU TRAIN DOGS FOR PTSD FOR NON-VETERAN CIVILIANS?

No. The only mental health diagnosis we train for is veterans with PTSD. 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 DOGS FOR OTHER PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS?

No. The only mental health diagnosis we train for is veterans with PTSD. 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 DOGS FOR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT?

No. Technically under the Americans with Disabilities Act, emotional support dogs do not have public access, as they have not been trained specifically for three physical tasks to mitigate a disability.

DO YOU TRAIN THERAPY DOGS?

We pair professional therapy dogs with mental health and/or crisis support provides, such as therapists, social workers, law enforcement, and more. Our dogs partner with these professionals to provide therapeutic support in places like residential treatment centers, schools, VA hospitals, and other settings. 

DO YOU TRAIN MEDICAL ALERT (SEIZURE, DIABETIC, ALLERGY, STROKE), SEEING EYE, OR HEARING DOGS?

No, we do not train any type of medical alert dogs, dogs for the blind, or dogs for the deaf.

I REALLY NEED A TYPE OF SERVICE DOG THAT YOU DO NOT CURRENTLY TRAIN. CAN YOU MAKE AN EXCEPTION FOR ME?

Unfortunately, we cannot make an exception. Training dogs for other types of service requires a different set of training skills that we are not set up to provide.

I SEE THERE IS A BACKGROUND CHECK IN THE APPLICATION. WILL YOU DISQUALIFY ME IF I HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD?

Not necessarily. We consider each applicant’s criminal history on a case-by-case basis. If you have a history of animal abuse or violent behavior toward 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 ALCHOHOL ABUSE. CAN I STILL APPLY?

Yes, you are still welcome to apply; however, we ask that applicants with a history of drug or alcohol abuse show at least one year of sobriety before we will place them on 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 makeup of your household. 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. Getting a service dog is a long, arduous process filled with challenges. If someone is not 100% dedicated to the process, they will not make a successful client-dog team.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST FREEDOM SERVICE DOGS TO PLACE A DOG?

It costs us $30,000 to $50,000 to train and place a service dog.

WHERE DOES YOUR FUNDING COME FROM?

All of our funding comes from donations. Most of this funding comes from private donations, and some comes from non-government grants.

CAN YOU MAIL ME AN APPLICATION FOR AN ASSISTANCE DOG?

Our application is now exclusively online. If you do not have access to a computer, or if using a computer is challenging for you, we recommend working with a family member, friend, neighbor, caseworker, or medical provider to assist you in completing the application.

COMPLAINT POLICY

At Freedom Service Dogs, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding customer service. However, if you feel we have not provided this level of service to you, we want to hear from you. Our policy provides the opportunity for applicants, waitlist clients, and active clients to have the opportunity to present their complaints and to appeal management decisions through a dispute-resolution procedure. FSD will promptly resolve all disputes that are within this policy.

To file a complaint or dispute, please document the issue and work directly with the Director of Client Services to resolve the issue. If the complaint or dispute is with the Director of Client Services, the complainant should work directly with the President & CEO. If the complaint or dispute is with the President & CEO, the complainant should work directly with the FSD Board Chair. The person in charge will investigate the complaint, attempt to resolve it, and give a decision to the complainant within a reasonable time including a written and dated summary of the dispute and proposed resolution. If the complainant and person in charge are unable to resolve the issue or if the complainant is dissatisfied with the decision, the complainant may proceed to the next higher level of management. If the complainant is not satisfied with the final FSD decision, the complainant may go to Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and complete its complaint form.