Heeling House is proud to breed, raise, train, and place service dogs to children between the ages of 5 and 18, in the greater Washington D.C. metro area. We currently offer the following types of service dogs: Mobility, Psychiatric, and Autism.
A service dog is 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. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are allowed access to most places that are normally open to the public. For more specific guidelines, go to https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.pdf.
A service dog is trained to perform tasks specifically relating to an individual’s disability. A therapy dog or emotional support animal on the other hand, can provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and even help with challenges such as anxiety and depression, but do not have specific task work training and are NOT considered service dogs.
How our Program Works
If you are interested in obtaining a service dog from Heeling House, Inc., the first step is to fill out an application. You will be contacted by one of our staff members, and a phone consultation will be scheduled to determine eligibility.
The next step for all eligible applicants is for all members in the household to come to our office for a conference to discuss the program in greater detail, including integrating a service dog into the household, what tasks the dog would be performing, and who the dog’s handler will be.
Once a letter of intent to move forward is signed, the child is matched with a dog. Depending on the tasks required, it might be necessary to be placed on a waiting list until an appropriate dog is ready.
After a child is matched with a dog, the dog’s handler will be required to pass a number of practical and written examinations before being certified as a Heeling House Service Dog team and receiving a Heeling House service dog vest. This process takes between one and four months, depending on the dog and client.
Heeling House provides semi-annual follow up appointments, continuing education and guidance for the duration of the dog’s career.