Service, guide, and hearing dogs are life-changing for many people with all sorts of health conditions and disabilities. Still, they’re not a suitable option for everyone, and there’s a lot to consider when deciding whether an assistance dog is right for you.
One important consideration is whether you can afford the animal. Basic canine care and supplies typically cost around $100 to $200 per month, depending on the dog’s size, activity level, grooming needs, and so on. This can certainly tax a tight budget (but be aware that most of the associated costs of having an assistance dog are tax deductible).
But an even greater obstacle for many people with disabilities is the initial cost of partnering with a hearing, guide, or service dog. The cost of getting one can hit $20,000 or more due to the extensive training, traveling during the partnering process, and other factors. This can make the prospect of becoming an assistance dog handler seem completely unrealistic to many people.
However, there are sources of financial aid that offer help paying for the acquisition of an assistance dog. Below are some places you can turn if you’ve decided that an assistance dog is right for you or a loved one. Keep in mind that eligibility requirements vary, and that you must always research your options and any organization you want to work with.
Financial Aid for Partnering with a Hearing, Guide, or Service Dog
- Always choose an ADI-accredited assistance dog provider and ask about your financial aid and financing options
- Contact charitable organizations dedicated to you or your family member’s specific disability and ask if they offer grants or fundraising help; often, even if they don’t directly give monetary assistance, they can point you to resources that do
- If you or your loved one became disabled as a result of US military service, the VA may pay for the initial cost of partnering with an assistance dog; read more about this here
- Some accredited assistance dog programs that work to provide for veterans at greatly reduced or no cost include America’s VetDogs, Brigadoon Service Dogs, K9s for Warriors, NEADS, Patriot Paws, and Retrieving Freedom Inc.
- If you need a guide dog, look into financial aid options through Guide Dogs for the Blind, Guide Dogs of America, Guide Dogs of the Desert, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and The Seeing Eye
- If you need a hearing dog, some programs that might be a source of monetary relief during the partnering process are Can Do Canines, Dogs for Better Lives, Paws with a Cause, and Service Dogs Inc.
- If you need an autism service dog, some providers that sometimes offer free or reduced-cost dogs include Can Do Canines, Canine Companions for Independence, Dogs for Better Lives, NEADS, Paws with a Cause, and Retrieving Freedom Inc.
- If you need a mobility assistance dog or service dog for another highly physical disorder, some trainers that may provide one for free or reduced cost are Brigadoon Service Dogs, Can Do Canines, Canine Companions for Independence, Canine Partners for Life, Canine Partners of the Rockies, Paws With a Cause, Service Dog Project (SDP), and Service Dogs Inc.
- If you need any type of assistance dog for a child, some providers you can turn to include Brigadoon Service Dogs, Can Do Canines, Canine Partners of the Rockies, NEADS, Paws with a Cause, and Retrieving Freedom Inc.
- Many of the assistance dog trainers listed in the above bullets also offer monetary relief for people with other conditions and wanting other types of service dogs