Criteria for applicants
**Please Note: You must be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia to apply. Thank you.**
In evaluating whether an applicant may successfully participate in our program, we consider the following criteria:
Ability to Meet the Needs of the Dog
The candidate must be able to reasonably meet the emotional, physical, and financial needs of the service dog (see estimate of expenses for more information). This includes offering a stable home environment, providing adequate exercise and grooming of the dog. Family members and/or aides are expected to assist where necessary.
The candidate must provide a safe, fenced enclosure adjacent to his or her home for toileting and exercise. Apartment dwellers will be required to make alternative arrangements in advance. Preference is for a home environment in which the service dog is the only dog living in the home, but exceptions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The service dog must be able to peacefully coexist with any other animals in the home.
Maturity and Cognitive Functioning
A candidate for a physical assistance or diabetic alert dog must be at least 12 years of age, whereas a candidate for an autism service dog need only be 4 years old. All individuals must possess the maturity and cognitive functioning to learn the skills required in the team training. S/he must also be capable of managing the dog once they are living together.
Candidates should be seeking to increase their independence through the assistance of a service dog. Candidates will be asked how a dog will assist them and make a difference in their life.
Duration of Commitment
SDV estimates the working life of each dog to be approximately 10 years. The candidate’s medical situation should enable the candidate to work with the dog for several years. Situations that might prevent a candidate from fulfilling this commitment will be evaluated by SDV on a case by case basis.
Ability to Attend Team Training
Applicants who are accepted into our program will be required to attend a two week team training at our training facility in Charlottesville, Virginia. Team Training is scheduled from approximately 10 am - 5 pm, Monday – Friday, for two consecutive weeks. SDV does not provide transportation, lodging, meals, or otherwise offer financial stipends to attendees during these training sessions.
Commitment to Contribute
Once accepted to the waiting list, candidates are required to make a commitment to help raise revenue for our organization. Each candidate has a minimum $8,000 goal that should be met during the waiting period which is often between one and two years. Candidates can meet their commitment out-of-pocket or through a host of fundraising strategies (with support from SDV). If for some reason the dog is placed before the contribution is met, we may extend the deadline or offer the opportunity to apply for a scholarship. Scholarships awards are conditional on both documented need and evidence of fundraising effort.
Applicants will be considered without regard to race, sex, religion, creed, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, age, or ability.