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Assistance Dog Loans: How to Get Financial Assistance for an Assistance Dog

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If you need financial assistance to get a service dog, you have several options to make the cost more affordable. (Shutterstock)

For people with disabilities, an assistance dog can make everyday life much safer and more comfortable. Service animals can help their owners navigate the world, increase their independence and awareness, and even perform everyday tasks.

While emotional support animals do not require any specialized training beyond the regular training that a companion animal needs, service animals are dogs that are specifically trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. This training can take years and is expensive — ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, according to the Service Dog, Therapy Dog & Emotional Support Animal Registry.

Fortunately, there are many resources that can help make getting a service dog more affordable, including a personal loan. You can use Credible to view your prequalified personal loan rates from various lenders, all in one place.

1. Check out assistance dog grants

Several non-profit organizations and foundations in the United States provide grants to help people with disabilities obtain service dogs. Here are a few to check out.

Dog United Support Campaign

the Dog United Support Campaign (ADUC) provides vouchers to people with disabilities, which they can take to local ADUC partner programs to help pay for the cost of training an assistance dog.

ADUC offers vouchers of up to $5,500 for assistance, hearing and guide dogs, and up to $2,500 for social and therapy dogs.

Application instructions can be found online and are only accepted in April and May.

Patriot PAWS

Patriot PAWS trains and provides assistance dogs to disabled American veterans. Although the program provides service animals free of charge, applicants must complete a background check, certify that they are financially able to cover the expenses of owning a pet, and participate in a program. 14-day training course at Patriot PAWS facilities in Texas. at their own expense.

The application, approval and placement process can take three years or more.

The eye that sees

The eye that sees raises and breeds puppies to be guide dogs for the visually impaired and trains people on how to properly handle and care for their dogs.

Prospective students can apply online or request an application by calling 800-539-4425 or emailing [email protected]

Students only pay $150 for their first dog and $50 for subsequent dogs. Military veterans pay $1. Once your application is accepted, it can take three to six months to be placed in a class.

canine companions

canine companions places service dogs with disabled children, adults and veterans. Service animals are provided free of charge to approved applicants. But the recipient must pay for transportation to and from a regional training facility, meals and lodging while training, and ongoing costs for feeding and care of the service animal after placement.

You can start the application process online. According to the website, there is a waiting list for assistance dogs. But the waiting time varies according to the needs of the applicant.

You can find information about other service dog programs via International Assistance Dogs.

2. Study and use the benefits of your health insurance plan

Unfortunately, health insurance — whether private or through Medicare — does not cover the cost of getting or maintaining a service dog.

But you may be able to use funds from a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) to cover costs associated with a service animal.

FHAs and HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts that allow you to set aside pre-tax money to pay for eligible medical expenses. Funds from an HSA can be rolled over from year to year, while funds from an FSA have a “use it or lose it” policy, which means that any funds you don’t spend not by the end of the year (plus a specified grace period, if your plan allows) are lost.

For 2022, you can contribute up to $3,650 to an HSA as a single person or $7,300 for a family plan. If you are 55 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000.

You can contribute up to $2,850 to a healthcare FSA for 2022.

To qualify for reimbursement for a service dog through an HSA or FSA:

  • The service animal must be required for medical treatment.
  • You should have a letter of medical necessity from your doctor stating that you need a service dog for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of a disease or medical condition.

3. Use a personal loan to fill in the gaps

Waiting years to get a service dog from a non-profit organization or foundation is not uncommon. To speed up the process, some people with disabilities buy or adopt a dog and then fundraise or take out a loan to pay for the training.

A Personal loan is a good option for financing the cost of training an assistance dog because you can use the loan funds for any purpose and you can spread the cost of training over several years.

If you decide to use a Personal loan To cover the cost of training a service dog, be sure to shop around with multiple lenders to find the right loan for you. Credible makes this process easy — you can compare prequalified rates from multiple partner lenders in minutes.

Service Dog Loan FAQs

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about service dog loans.

How much does a service dog cost?

The cost of a service dog varies depending on whether you are applying for a trained service animal or training your own dog, the level of training you need, and the program you follow.

Here is a breakdown of some common expenses associated with getting a service dog:

  • Fully Trained Service Dog — $15,000 to $50,000, depending on the degree of intensive training required
  • Character test — $300 to $400 to see if your dog is a good service dog candidate
  • Training – $150 to $250 per hour, for a minimum of 120 hours
  • Ongoing Veterinary Care — $1,000 to $2,000 per year
  • Food – $300 per year
  • Service dog registration fees — $100 to $200

Also, don’t forget the cost of grooming, buying toys and treats, collars, leashes, and other accessories.

Are assistance dogs and ESAs the same?

Service dogs and emotional support animals (ESAs) are not the same. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, emotional support animals are not considered service dogs. They provide companionship and can help their owners with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. However, they generally do not require the same level of training as service dogs that perform specific tasks to help someone with a physical disability.

ESAs for a mental disability are generally not eligible for most financial aid, but you can apply for a Personal loan to cover the cost of obtaining one.

What other financial assistance is available for service dogs?

Assistance dogs have several advantages, including:

  • Assistance dogs traveling with their owner are exempt from pet fees charged by airlines.
  • Owners and owner associations are not allowed to discriminate against people with service dogs, although they normally have a “no pets” rule.
  • Landlords and hotels cannot charge a fee for service dogs.
  • Cities cannot require citizens to allow their assistance dogs.

Check with your state or city’s department of social services to see if other financial assistance is available. For example, in California, the Assistance Dog Special Allowance Program offers a monthly payment of $50 to help owners of assistance dogs cover the cost of food, grooming and veterinary care.

If you need a personal loan to help cover the cost of a service dog, Credible lets you compare personal loan rates from multiple lenders in minutes.

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