Assistance or service dogs are trained to assist an individual who is visually or hearing impaired, experiencing mobility limitations or dealing with psychological disorders. There are distinctions between service or guide dogs, sometimes known as assistance dogs, and therapy, emotional support or companion dogs. A service dog has legal access to accompany the person wherever they go; a therapy, emotional or companion dog DOES NOT have legal access. 

Fully trained assistance dogs are governed by the Americans With Disabilities Act, which defines a service animal as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability.” 

Assistance dogs in training are governed under state statutes, not the ADA. Each state statute has different points and should be researched and understood by the service dog trainer. Key to the NC statute are provisions that the service dog in training must be identified, must be under control of the trainer by leash or harness, and must be the only service dog in training being handled. Further, the NC statute is clear that falsely representing an animal as a service dog is a misdemeanor.


Canines for Service trains service dogs to assist Veterans with mobility limitations, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After an average of 2,500 hours, the dogs know numerous commands and can pick up dropped items, open doors, be harnessed to assist someone walking or help to pull a manual wheelchair. The service dog can load a washer and unload a dryer, turn lights on and off, pick up coins and give them to their person, and lie quietly for hours if their person is in a meeting or just relaxing at home. The service dogs provide constant assistance and can help someone with PTSD by creating space between the person and someone near them, assisting them in exiting a room, or providing tactile (touch) stimulation to help relieve anxiety. Each service dog is carefully matched to a person considering many factors including the person’s needs, height and lifestyle and the individual dog's strengths. When a match is made and the person receives their service dog, we provide training one-on-one for the person with the dog, rather than group training with others receiving service dogs. Because Canines for Service retains ownership of the dog for a period of 3 years after its placement with a person, we also provide liability insurance coverage for the dog during that period of time.


If Canines for Service cannot address your needs, there are numerous assistance dog providers who use many different training methods, define their own selection criteria for the dog (e.g., age, temperament, size, health screening) and decide how much training a dog receives before providing it to a person. Most organizations have an application process, and often there is a wait list of two or more years. Some providers charge a fee for an assistance dog or require the person receiving the dog to participate in fundraising efforts to help offset the cost of the training. One resource of assistance dog providers is Assistance Dogs International (ADI). While ADI does not train and place service dogs, the organization is a coalition of service dog providers who have agreed to define standards of training and have had a review of their practices by peers in the industry. So, what should you look for in a service dog provider? Here are just a few points to consider: 

  • How old are the dogs when provided to a client? 

  • How have the dogs been evaluated for temperament and health? 

  • Are the dogs' hips assessed by x-ray? 

  • Can the dog handle public settings or is it timid or fearful? 

  • If a private trainer or a paid provider, is there a written contract with clear deliverables and expectations of what the service dog will be able to do? 

  • Is training provided for the client, and is it provided in a group or individually? 

  • Is follow-up training available? 

  • Who owns the dog after it is placed with a client? 

  • Does the organization provide liability insurance coverage for the service dog during its initial placement? 

  • Is the organization a legal organization in compliance with state and federal laws? 



221 Old Dairy Road, Unit 1
Wilmington NC 28405

Four Star Seal Logo Final.jpg

Canines for Service Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to Canines for Service Inc. are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by applicable law.  Tax identification number: 56-2118747

Canines for Service Inc., Canines for Veterans and Canines for Therapy are registered trademarks of Canines for Service Inc.  All rights reserved. 

©2018 Canines for Service Inc.