Owning and caring for a service dog is a big commitment. We want to make sure our applicants understand what is involved, and our process is designed to ensure that we make the best possible match for each applicant. Please read all of the information carefully before contacting us about a dog.
The wait to receive a service dog can range anywhere from a few months to several years. Matches are not made on a first-come, first-served basis. We are very careful in matching dogs with clients, making sure it’s the best possible fit, both in terms of tasks and temperament. When a dog is ready for placement, we look through our list of waiting clients to determine who we think would make the best match.
There are several steps along the way:
Assessment Phase begins when the application packet is received and requires the applicant to attend a minimum of three dog assessments. This phase may last several years.
Team Training Phase is an intensive two-week, on-site training program that is held a couple of times a year for applicants who have been matched with a dog.
Follow-up Phase lasts for the working lifetime of the dog with Summit staff or volunteers providing regular check-ins and follow-up support as needed.
Anyone who can demonstrate a real need for and intent to use the services of an assistance dog can qualify. We have no upper or lower age limits, but applicants must demonstrate sufficient maturity and decision-making ability to manage a dog independently and ensure its quality of life. Service dogs for young children must be under the stewardship of a responsible adult.
We make placements primarily in the Pacific Northwest, but nationwide placement may be considered when follow-up care for the partnership can be assured.
We do not charge our clients for their service dogs, but we do ask that they contribute to our work in whatever way they can. The cost of acquiring, training and placing an assistance dog and providing follow-up support to our clients is more than $25,000 per dog. That takes into account food, vet bills, staff time and the cost of dogs who must be career changed because they don’t work out for our program.
We recognize the fact that many people are unable to afford the full cost of a dog, so we conduct fundraising and grant writing to make it possible to meet the demand for these life-changing partnerships. However, time spent fundraising is time away from training, so we strongly encourage our graduates to contribute financially and be actively involved in their own fundraising efforts to the extent they can. We are happy to explore different fundraising ideas.
We also require our clients to provide consistent care for their dogs at their own expense, including regular and unexpected vet care, quality food, and treats and toys.
Note: We do not train people’s own dogs.