Hero Dogs places service dogs with veterans and first-responders with disabilities. We also place facility dogs with qualified clinicians, and skilled home companion dogs with veteran and first-responder families. The eligibility criteria below are for those seeking a service dog. If you are interested in applying for one of the other types of placements, please visit the pages for facility dogs and skilled home companion dogs.
Who Is Eligible to Apply?
- You must be a veteran of the U.S. Uniformed Services with an honorable discharge. If you are a first-responder, you must have an equivalent, verifiable service record.
- Discharge other than honorable may be considered on a case by case basis.
- You must be released from all military and reserve obligations, or within three months of being released from all military and reserve obligations upon completion of your application.
- You must have a disability. A person with a disability is defined by the ADA as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.
- Your disability does not need to be service connected.
- We do not require any minimum VA disability rating.
- There must be specific tasks which a dog could be trained to do to mitigate the effects of your disability.
- You must live within 50 miles or approximately one hour’s travel time of Hero Dogs (zip code 20833 – click here to see our service area).
- You must commit to remaining in our service area for a period of one year after being matched with a dog.
- You must be able to provide your own transportation to Hero Dogs and other public locations for training.
- If your disability includes PTSD or any other psychiatric disability, you must be currently in counseling, and must remain in mental health treatment for the duration of your matching and training with Hero Dogs.
- You must have been in counseling for at least 3 months.
- You must have had at least 8 hours of counseling during that time.
- If you have prior substance use disorder or addiction history, you must have a minimum of 6 months of sobriety to engage in the application process, and must maintain sobriety, under the oversight of a healthcare provider working with our Director of Applicant and Client Services, throughout the training process and the duration of custody of a Hero Dog or be subject to dismissal from the program and removal of the dog.
If you meet these basic criteria, please continue reading below for other important requirements before requesting an application. If you do NOT meet these basic eligibility criteria, please visit Assistance Dogs International, Inc. (ADI) to locate a service dog agency that places dogs in your area or nationally. ADI is a coalition of not-for-profit organizations that train and place service, guide, and hearing dogs.
Other Mandatory Requirements
- You must refrain from volunteering, donating, or otherwise participating in fund raising or public relations activities for Hero Dogs for at least six months prior to applying.
- You must be able to meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of a dog, and have an adequate support system in place to do so when you are unable to meet these needs yourself.
- You must have the full support of your family (including any caregivers), your employer, and your landlord (where applicable) in your quest to receive a service dog.
- You must be willing and able to commit to the training program and schedule.
- You must be able to provide financial support for the dog after ownership has been signed over.
Applicants will be considered for partnership with a Hero Dog regardless of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), marital status, sexual orientation, or other categories protected by law.
If you are still interested and meet these minimum qualifications, your next steps are to:
- Read our FAQ by clicking here.
- Read the more detailed description of the training program here.
- Request an application by filling out our Eligibility Survey.
- After you have filled out the Eligibility Survey, you will be directed to the application process page to learn more about next steps.