The application, wait time, and handler training process:
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 will determine
if one of our service dogs can assist you.
2. If your application and documentation leads 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 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
5. Once the dog is done with its training we work together with you every day for 2 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 that dog, and its support of you.
Commonly 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, up to the age of 65. Disabled recipients over the age of 65
at the time of the application submission cannot be admitted into our program. 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. There are certain situations where service dogs can
attend school with a child, but this is not always the case.
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 in blood sugar, panic/anxiety attacks, 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
We do not train dogs to work for or guide the blind, or to alert to food allergies.
Q: Is there a cost for the dog?
A: Our goal is to get the dog to you at no cost. The way this is done is through fundraising and donations. We have a
team of over 40 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 $24,000.00 per dog. We do not expect you to pay these costs. These expenses are paid for through
fundraising. All donations become a tax deduction to the fullest extent of the law due to our approval 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 in 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 3-4
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 put forth effort on their own for fundraising will help us to
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. The most costly area of each
dog's specialized training must wait until the funds are available. 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. This deposit is gifted back to the
recipient once fundraising is complete to ensure that individuals incur little to no cost to receive their service dog.
Q: How long is the waiting list?
A: If the recipient is involved in fundraising this is an average of 6-18 months before a dog is placed with its
recipient. We have seen some recipients receive dogs in as little as 1 month from the date they join our waiting list,
but as long as over 3 years if they are not involved in fundraising.
Q: What about travel and expenses?
A: Fundraising not only helps with the cost of the dog’s training expenses, but can also pay for flight, hotel and food
costs during the recipient’s handler training. 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.
Q: What will the dog be like?
A: Little Angels has a breeding program consisting of English Labrador 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 and good vision. 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.
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 from below. A non-refundable application fee will be charged to ensure
the commitment level of each applicant.
Most applications will be sent to you within 1-3 business days.
$25.00 application fee for applications sent to you via email.
$35.00 application fee for applications sent to you via physical mail.
Applying for a
Trained Service Dog
Applying for a Little Angels Service Dog is a multi-step process which takes an average of 1-2
months to complete.
Please read the entirety of this page before requesting your application.
Little Angels Service Dogs is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that trains and places assistance dogs with disabled
children and adults throughout the United States.
If you are interested in training your own dog to assist you or a family member, please visit our
Training Seminars page.