Apply For a Service Dog

Little Angels Service Dogs Seizure Alert : Andy & Addison YouTube play



Applying for a Little Angels Service Dog is a multi-step process which takes an average of two months to complete.

Please read the entirety of this page before purchasing your application. Applications are at the bottom of the page. 

Little Angels is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that trains and places assistance dogs with disabled children and adults throughout the United States.

The following details the process of applying for a service dog, the waiting time and the handler training process. Please see below for a list of frequently asked questions.

  1. The first step is to request an application at the bottom of this page. We will send you the appropriate application for your disability which will require information on your disability, your living situation and information gathered from your references and medical provider(s). Once we have received your application we may ask you to send us videos, which will help us determine if one of our service dogs can assist you.
  2. If your application and documentation lead us to believe that one of our dogs can assist you we will schedule a phone interview and consultation. The interview and consultation allows us to ask any further questions to ensure a good fit with our program and will allow us to confirm that you have realistic expectations of how a service dog can assist you. This gives us the opportunity to explain what an average day with a service dog will be like by going over the details of a regular day for you and the different tasks the service dog would need to be trained in to assist you.
  3. If you, your medical provider, and Little Angels still agree that a service dog is in your best interest, we would then write out a customized contract going over all the details for you to review. This is when we would ask you to take your time and discuss all of your options with friends and family. We want to make sure this is the right decision for you. You can take days, or even months to weigh your options. A service dog can bring life-changing assistance to someone with a disability – but it is a decision that will affect you for the life of the dog.
  4. If you decide to move forward, we would have you return the contract with a deposit of $500.00. Once we are done with the fundraising efforts, this amount is gifted back to you so that you do not need to pay to receive a dog, however, the deposit shows us your commitment to the program. This deposit reserves your spot on our waiting list and helps us plan out the amount of dogs needed in our program based on the amount of recipients on our waiting list. Wait times vary based on fundraising and the training each dog needs to receive to help their disabled recipient.
  5. Once the dog is done with its training we work together with you every day for two weeks in San Diego, California. These lessons are done on a private basis, and are designed to be low-stress, fun and practical. This is for team training – for you and your dog to learn how to work together as a team both in public and at home. This is also when you are certified by us as a working team, and certified for public access so you can bring the dog with you into public settings if needed.
  6. Continued contact is required with training reports and training assessments throughout the rest of the dog’s life. We have a lifetime commitment to the dog and its support of you.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What age does the recipient have to be in order to receive a dog?
A: Little Angels places dogs to assist children and adults. Disabled recipients who are not able to be consistent to reinforce the dog’s training will require a handler (facilitator) to care for the dog and issue commands to the dog for the assistance of the disabled party. Because of this, there is not necessarily an age requirement for the disabled party. Dogs can even alert to seizures in an infant as long as the parent is consistent with training reinforcement.

Q: Can the dog attend school with my child?
A: There are certain situations where service dogs can attend school with a child, but this is not always the case. If the child cannot safely control the dog on their own, there is no legal advocacy for the dog to attend. However, some schools will voluntarily allow the dog to attend school when a staff member volunteers to handle the dog between classes.

Q: What can the dog do?
A: While our dogs are highly trained, they are not robots. Our recipients and handlers receive very detailed instruction on how to properly reinforce the training their dog has received. Our dogs respond to commands, but they are not responsible. They cannot be relied on to protect or guide individuals away from harm. They care for their recipients, but they are not caregivers. It is the handler’s responsibility to care for the dog, and in return the dog will perform tasks to assist the recipient. Our dogs are trained for each individual’s needs. We train dogs to assist with seizures, autism, hearing, diabetes, PTSD for veterans and civilians, extreme anxiety disorders, and mobility for those with or without a wheelchair. Some of these tasks include retrieving items, opening/closing doors, turning on/off lights, dialing assistance dog phones, retrieving phones, bracing for balance while walking/transferring/getting up off the floor, providing non-protective boundary control, going around corners in advance of the recipient, alerting to specific sounds, tether and search training for autism assistance, and providing deep pressure therapy. We also actively train our dogs to recognize and alert to seizures, drops and rises in blood sugar, panic/anxiety attacks, and nightmares and flashbacks. We successfully use scent training which allows our dogs to recognize seizures in advance for many individuals with epilepsy. This depends on the type, frequency, and activity of the seizures which will be discussed in the phone consultation.
We do not train dogs to work for or guide the blind, or to alert to food allergies.

Q: Is there a cost that recipients pay for the dog?
A: There is a $25.00 application fee to ensure the commitment level of each applicant. After the application process is complete and the recipient has been approved to receive a dog, the recipient is required to submit a $500.00 deposit with the submission of their contract to join the waiting list. This $500.00 deposit is not refundable if the recipient decides to be removed from the waiting list or decides not to move forward with our program. This deposit shows us that the recipient is committed to the training process and the responsibilities of receiving and caring for a service dog. Once a recipient joins our waiting list, fundraising begins.

Q: What is the process of fundraising?
A: Our goal is to the dog to you at no cost, other than the initial $500.00 deposit. The way this is done is through fundraising and donations. We have a team of over forty volunteers who help to lower costs associated with the training of each dog, but there are still many expenses that cannot be avoided. Before a dog is placed with a disabled recipient, we are faced with many expenses, all of which come out to an average of $28,000.00 per dog. We do not expect you to pay these costs. These expenses are paid for through fundraising. All donations become tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law due to our status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization under the IRS. When we receive grants and gifts we allow the donating party to choose which disability they would like to support. This proves to be an effective way for our supporters to be directly connected to the process. Most gifts received will only cover a small percentage of the total amount needed per dog. Because of this we cannot guarantee the amount of time it will take in order to raise funds for each dog. However, if the disabled recipient is able to volunteer as a fundraiser for Little Angels, the process usually takes an average of three to four months per dog. Our fundraising coordinators are available to directly assist our recipients to raise funds themselves if they are able to be involved in the process – but fundraising is never a requirement for our recipients. We do see that the individuals who are able to fundraise will help us reach the financial goals sooner, so following through with your own fundraising is recommended, but not a requirement. Please note that most applicants choose Little Angels over other organizations because of the opportunity for them to be involved with fundraising, thus shortening their wait time.

Q: How does Little Angels determine the fundraising goal for each dog?
A: We certainly understand the sticker shock when it comes to the high expense of providing service dogs. It’s a lot of money! Organizations generally take the overall expenses of the program, and divide that by how many dogs they plan on placing in a year, to come up with the amount needed to keep the organization functioning that year. Many can’t see how so much money could possibly pour into one individual dog, but for any pet owners who have ever boarded their pet, for even a week, they know that the cost is often similar to the expense of their own vacation. This is because there are so many staff members needed to care for the dog and provide enough enrichment for them to do well in a kennel environment. Some of our dogs are boarded at our kennel, while others are in foster homes. During the course of a dog’s training this often changes because it is healthy and productive for them to be in both environments, off and on. The dogs who are in foster homes, and cared for by volunteers, still have many staff hours put into managing the fostering experience, with regular instruction and follow-ups with the fosters. For the dogs fostered by dedicated inmates in our prison programs, we have staff who have weeks of travel expenses, due to the need to travel to the prisons for weeks at a time to instruct and oversee the prison program, as well as manage it administratively between trips. The travel expenses to the prisons often include airfare, or mileage, and hotel expenses due to prisons being an 8 hour drive from our facility. Expenses for each dog will certainly include the initial adoption or whelping costs. If a litter is born from our own breeding program we have the yearly expenses of both parents of that litter, in addition to fees paid to the canine cryobank, veterinary, and supplies of whelping which is around $3,000 per litter, with an average litter size of 6 puppies (remember it also  costs thousands to care for the parents throughout that year). If we are lucky enough to adopt a dog from a shelter we will have an adoption fee of $69. But if we purchase a puppy or dog from a breeder we pay between $2,000 – $5,000 per pup (we aren’t purchasing run of the mill dogs for this program because they need to have proven lines of health tested dogs for generations). Other direct expenses per dog will include boarding that dog for 1-2 years, an average of 600 one-on-one hours to train a dog, an additional average of 300 one-on-one hours for grooming and driving that individual dog to field trips, travel expenses of field trips, supply runs, and veterinary visits. Then we have direct supplies (such as leashes, vests, collars, tags, microchips, booties, crates, toys, harnesses), veterinary procedures, health clearances, medications, and the food that goes into each individual dog, in addition to the trainer’s time during handler training when the recipient learns to work with their dog. Then there is all of the administrative staffing required for the behind the scenes work (excluding application reviews which end up paying for themselves, hence the $25 application fee). Our administrative team collaboratively returns voice mails, conducts phone consultations, oversees human resources, manages social media and our website, supports the recipients on our waiting lists, coordinates fundraising, and together will answer close to 300 emails every day! This alone requires 4 full time staff (who work with people, rather than the dogs themselves). The administrative costs also do not end when the dog is finished with training, but continues for the lifetime of the dog. Training costs also continue because we offer free refresher training, at anytime, to any recipient, as well as availability to reach a trainer 7 days a week, for the life of the dog. There are also the expenses related to the facility itself, the lease, utilities, and kennel upkeep such as fencing repairs and landscaping. Insurance is also very expensive both for workers compensation of employees working in a high risk related industry, commercial auto, and for the high liability we are exposed to in having so many dogs out in public settings throughout the United States. While these expenses are quite enough on their own, we also have the exact same expenses for dogs who never make it as service dogs, which are also included into the grand total. The fact that we do have so many amazing volunteers is what lowers our expenses to the total of $28,000 per dog that we place. While every nonprofit has financial statements available on the internet, I often encourage the public to do an internet search to question how much it costs for the largest service dog organizations in the world to place each dog. We won’t mention any names here, but think of the largest, most widely recognized organizations, type in the exact name of that organization, and go from there. This is a good comparison because they are also openly transparent online that it costs them anywhere from $50,000 – $70,000 per dog that they place. Anyone can find this easily on the internet. Even though $50,000 is a much higher expense than we are faced with, they are still within an average range for service dog organizations that are reputable and have high standards. While they also have many dedicated volunteers, they are also much larger organizations, which will have greater expenses.

We are hopeful this paints a small picture of why this industry is faced with such high fundraising goals across the world. There is quite a bit that goes into each working team.

Q: How long is the waiting list?
A: Once fundraising is completed recipients are currently waiting an average of 1 year to receive their dogs, but keep in mind this is average, and could take even close to 2 years in some cases. Fundraising wait times depend greatly on the involvement of each individual, and whether or not they are involved in fundraising.

Q: What about travel and expenses?
A: The costs for travel expenses are separate from the amount raised for the service dog itself. Recipients who do not live in Southern California will need to travel to San Diego and stay near our facility for the two weeks of handler training. Travel expenses vary and are the responsibility of the recipient.

Q: What will the dog be like?
A: Little Angels has a breeding program consisting of English Labrador Retrievers and English Cream Golden Retrievers. We also rescue suitable dogs whenever possible. Rescued dogs are often Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Shepherds, Poodles or mixes of any of these breeds. All dogs are fully medically screened for good hip and elbow joints, spine, good vision, heart and other medical concerns associated with that specific breed. Most service tasks require a larger breed dog weighing an average of 60 pounds, but some assistance tasks would allow a 10 pound dog to be suitable. If there are any dog allergies within the recipient’s home we will place a hypoallergenic dog such as a Poodle. Poodles come in all sizes, some of which are even larger than Labradors. All of our dogs have their own individual personalities. Some are laid back, while others are playful. All of our dogs understand the difference between work and play. When they are not working they relax and play just like other dogs. We place each dog to match the personality of the recipient.

Q: What if I have other animals?
A: We will place our service dogs in homes with other pets on a case-by-case basis. We consider the species, personalities and traits of each individual animal for the safety of all involved.

Hopefully this has answered some of your questions. Additional questions can be discussed in the phone interview and consultation. Each recipient is handled on an individual basis with many different scenarios.

To request an application select an option below. A non-refundable fee will be charged to ensure the commitment level of each applicant.


Before you order PLEASE NOTE:

1) If you choose to download your application it will be available immediately after paying. Once your payment has been confirmed with PayPal, you will be redirected to our site and the application will be unlocked for downloading.

2) If you choose to have an application sent to you through physical mail please keep in mind there will be some delay. Our applications are usually sent out within 1-3 business days.

3) Please be sure to order the correct application from the PayPal menus based on your disability.


$25.00 application fee for applications available for immediate download.

$35.00 application fee for applications sent to you via physical mail.

Please click the link below to be taken to our purchase page. An option for applications sent by mail is at the bottom.


Click Here to Order an Application


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