• Therapy Dogs: Dogs are trained and certified by Therapy Dog organizations to provide comfort and/or assistance in a variety of activities. Therapy Dogs are handled by their owners who Volunteer to take the dog to visit people in nursing homes, hospitals, etc.

  • Service Dogs: According to the American Disabilities Act (ADA) a service dog is specifically trained to assist a person with a medical or psychological disability. Service dogs are trained in public access as well as two or more tasks that specifically assist the person’s disability. They go everywhere with the person with the disability. According to the ADA, a service dog is not a comfort care dog.

  • Guide Dogs: Service Dogs trained to assist the blind.

  • Public Access Test for Service Dogs: Tests to assure that a Service Dog is ready to be permitted into public areas

  • Emotional Support Dog: A dog that comforts a person who has a psychological disability. By Law, an ESA does not qualify as a Service Dog, but, according to the Fair Housing Act, is allowed to live with their person in an apartment or home that does not allow pets. ESAs do NOT have Public Access.

Service Dogs are trained to do many tasks. Service Dogs Alabama (SDA) trains dogs for PTSD and anxiety disorders, Autism, Balance and Harness Assistance, Fall Alert, Wheelchair Assistance, Seizure Alert, and Diabetic Alert.

All SDA service dogs are trained in intervention techniques for anxiety as well as all medical alert tasks relevant to the person’s or facility’s needs.

At the time of placement, SDA fully-trained service dogs are certified in Public Access and tasks and the handlers provided services and training  in accordance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA), Assistance Dogs International (ADI), Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAI-Int), and Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans.

SDA breeds dogs specifically for good health, tolerance, temperament, work ethic, focus, intelligence among other factors. These dogs are genetically exceptional candidates for service work before they ever start the training process.

SDA trains dogs to be Service Dogs for 2-3 years prior to placement.

Yes. You will come to our Training Complex near Montgomery, AL and stay for 7 days for training. Facility Dog handlers come for 5 days of training at the time of placement.

You are also required to return each year for a re-certification training weekend for year 2 and 3 after you receive your dog. After year 3, we will do a video check-in with you.

We are always available should you need help with your dog at any time. Please do not hesitate to call.

At this time, we do not train pets to be service dogs. However, if you have a dog that is well-qualified to be a service dog, we would advise that you to have your dog evaluated in a public area by a professional service dog trainer who does not stand to profit from you. You will need an unbiased assessment before you move forward with putting money into a dog who could be a liability for you around other dogs, people, or in public.

Please keep in mind that regardless of your need for a service dog, you are always responsible for what your dog does that is out of your control.

The cost for Service Dogs Alabama to train a dog certified in Public Access and all tasks needed to support a person’s disabilities is $30,000.00 each. Our recipients never pay this amount of money. Please check the Application relevant to your disability to see fees if any.

Each organization has a different wait time. SDA usually has a 1 year to 18-month wait time. However, due to COVID, our wait time has increased to 1-2 years.

  • Can we afford to take care of a Service Dog?
    Caring for a Service Dog has several requirements. A SD must have monthly oral flea and heartworm treatment. SDs require high quality dog food. Special attention must be paid to daily exercise, weekly baths and daily grooming, complete annual check-ups and other health needs.  A fenced-in yard is required.

  • Do we have the time to keep a Service Dog trained?
    A Service Dog may come to you completely trained and reliable in 60+ commands and behaviors, however, if you do not consistently practice these commands, your Service Dog will not perform them. Particularly with Alert Dogs of all kinds, consistent training is mandatory.  This takes a commitment of time.

  • Do I want to discuss my disability or my child’s disability with strangers everywhere we go with the Service Dog?
    When you have a Service Dog, everyone wants to talk to you and ask questions. Strangers are usually well-meaning and should be educated about service dogs whenever possible. However, this constant intrusion by strangers can become tiresome.

  • Does our family have a lifestyle that is conducive to having a Service Dog?
    Service Dogs cannot be boarded except at Service Dogs Alabama’s Montgomery or Falkville kennels. If you must leave your Service Dog for a short time, a trusted family member or friend should be trained to keep your Service Dog.

    A Service Dog must go with their recipient everywhere that they go unless there is a safety risk.

    So, if your family travels extensively or does not want to take a dog along with them everywhere, you might consider a pet or a task-trained emotional support dog rather than a Service Dog.

Yes. SDA trains Service Dogs to attend school with their child recipients. If your child does not attend school, you may need a therapeutic pet or a task-trained emotional support dog rather than a certified Service Dog. Service Dogs, by definition, assist in making their recipient more independent and are trained to be out in public every day.

Jobs that are outdoors may be too hot or cold to have a service dog with you at all times. Construction jobs, hospitals, veterinary clinics, restaurants, etc are not environments suitable for a service dog to be every day. If you plan to get a service dog, you must consider getting a job in an environment suitable for a service dog to be every day, all day.