At Highland Canine Service Dogs, we love helping families and individuals in need by matching them with a service dog who can improve their quality of life. These amazing dogs are able to help their handlers by performing specific tasks, whilst also bringing a level of reassurance and peace of mind to concerned family members.
Occasionally, we receive questions from service dog applicants about accreditation and Assistance Dogs International (ADI). We wanted to take a few moments to answer some frequently asked questions around this topic to help potential applicants understand more about this accreditation.
Information about Assistance Dogs International (ADI)
Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is a not-for-profit organization which is registered in the United States. ADI is recognized by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) as a service dog accrediting organization. ADI maintains a list of accredited organizations (members) which raise, train and provide service dogs.
Who is eligible for ADI accreditation?
ADI accreditation is only available to organizations registered as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. ADI will not grant accreditation to a company in the United States that does not hold 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status.
Does Highland Canine Service Dogs have ADI accreditation?
Highland Canine Service Dogs is not a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, and consequently, cannot seek ADI accreditation.
How does this affect service dog applicants?
In 2016, the United States Department of Defense put in place a law which specified that service dogs on military establishments must come from an accredited service dog organization, as defined by the ADI.
This means that military personnel who require a service dog will only be able to seek a service dog from a limited number of not-for-profit organizations.
Does not-for-profit = better?
There are several non-profit organizations which provide amazing programs and support for veterans. We applaud and encourage any organization which is committed to making life better for those who are serving our nation in this capacity.
However, just because a service dog organization is not-for-profit, it does not mean that their service dogs will be cheaper; it does not mean the provision of a service dog will be quicker; and it does not mean the training process will be more effective.
The distinction between not-for-profit and for-profit organizations is primarily a decision on business structure, not on service provision. Regardless of the business structure in place, service dog organizations will have processes in place and costs to absorb for the following items:
- Puppy selection
- Matching the handler and service dog
- Equipment and supplies
- Veterinary expenses
- Socialization and desensitization activities
- Task training
- Delivery of the service dog to the family
- Post-delivery support and assistance
Every reputable service dog organization – non-profit or otherwise – will deal with each of these aspects of service dog training. The structure of the organization does not mean that one will be better placed to help than another.
Additionally, limiting service dog accreditation for veterans to a finite number of organizations also increases wait times for the delivery of service dogs. In some states, you can count the number of accredited organizations based in that state on one hand; in others, there are no accredited organizations at all. This increased wait time is obviously not good for military personnel who may be desperate for the benefits a well-trained service dog can provide.
With the current rules in place, we regret that we cannot provide you with a service dog if you must obtain one from an ADI accredited organization.
We would encourage everyone to remember that judging the competency and quality of any organization is about far more than examining its business structure. In particular, there are several things to consider before working with an organization providing service dogs – after all, this is a life-changing commitment.
Carry out your research and discover the things that will really matter to you and your family. For example, what is their training process like? Can they provide testimonials and reviews from previous service dog recipients? Applying for a service dog is a big commitment of time and energy, so are you confident and happy speaking with the trainers and staff at this company going forward?