Q&A

We’ve listed the most common and frequently asked questions here, but should you have a question that is not addressed, please e-mail your question to: info@medicalservicedogs.org and we will be happy to answer your specific question.

Military, First Responders* and Civilians struggling with a disability such as: PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Traumatic Brain Injury, mobility issues, diabetic imbalance, and/or a seizure disorder may qualify for our program. Before being approved, our thorough application process will ask that you qualify several factors including:

  • Having a mental or physical disability that limits a major life activity.
  • Must be physically, cognitively and financially capable of working with, and caring for their service dog.
  • Would have the ability to train at one of our training locations.

*Please note that we classify first responders as: Police, Fire and EMS only.

!If you’re ready to begin the application process, click here. 

Service Dogs are protected by both State and Federal Law in Florida, as well as many other states.

Watch this helpful video, filmed by the Sarasota Police Department, in conjunction with Guardian Angels.

With the exception of a $50.00 application fee, Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs are provided at NO COST to their recipients. However, Guardian Angels must raise approximately $30,000  to cover our cost of individually training each dog, plus a lifetime of support for each team we pair. Guardian Angels relies heavily on individual donations, private grants and fundraising to continue our mission. We encourage everyone to become involved to help save someone’s life..

There are multiple reasons why other pets in the home can make it a more difficult environment for your working service dog. While we have paired many service dogs successfully in homes with other pets, keep in mind that it will delay the process. Other pets can be a distraction to your service dog, and limit your service dog’s ability to focus on the task at hand. The sole responsibility of the recipient would be the service dog, while other family members focused on caring for the pets.

From time-to-time, we have emotional support dogs available to the public. This means the dog will be very well-suited to work for the recipient at home, but by law, will not be allowed to go into public venues.

We require any person who receives one of our service dogs to have the ability to physically and cognitively work with and care for their service dog.

While Guardian Angels trains for a great number of other disabilities, there are specific organizations that specialize in leader dogs for the visually impaired.

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Once you’ve submitted your full application, it will be received and reviewed by our recipient relations department. Each applicant is carefully considered, and their needs determined. Once this step is complete, approved applicants will be notified and placed on the waiting list. The timeline for this process varies widely, and is based on a combination of factors including your individual needs. You and your family will also undergo a series of training orientations prior to being paired with your service dog.

Our Foster Family Training Program is a unique system that allows us to train many more dogs simultaneously. Foster Family volunteers go through a screening process, and then take a service dog in–training for 6-10 weeks at a time. During those weeks, our Foster Trainers attend weekly training classes with their foster dogs, and regularly work on specific training areas, such as house manners and desensitizing them to public areas. If you would like more information, or to apply for our Foster Training Program, click here.

Our P.E.T.S. Program (Pets; Evaluated and Trained for Service) is a program, exclusive to Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs that allows you to train your already great pet as a service dog. The same pre-conditions and obligations that apply to our service dog applicants are required for the P.E.T.S. Program. Your pet must have the necessary traits and work ethic, and you must attend weekly training classes at one of our training locations. For more information, or to apply for our P.E.T.S. program, see our page here.

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are allowed. If you enter a business and are told that you cannot bring your dog inside, you simply tell them that this is your service dog. By law, a business is not allowed to ask you what your disability is, nor can they demand proof that your dog is “certified”. Each state may have additional laws that provide protection to service dogs and the people they serve. You may want to read further information on laws specific to your state.

In addition, a service dog is also legally permitted to travel on any public transit system with their owner (not in cargo) including buses, trains, boats, planes, etc. For complete information on traveling with your service dog, please review the special set of regulations dealing with airline travel.

A service dog is a highly trained dog with excellent on lead obedience and manners. They can never be shy, overly protective or aggressive to any other person or animal. They must always be friendly and accepting of others without soliciting attention. They must have a great work ethic and focus so that they are able to do their job in any situation even if the sky is falling in. They must have a specific skill set that actually mitigates the challenges of a disability such as a guide dog leads people with visual impairments, a hearing assistance dog alerts people that are deaf, assists with the challenges of PTSD, seizure or insulin alert, etc. An emotional support dog is not recognized as a service dog.

Important Answers on Dogs and COVID-19

Researchers are still studying the impact on animals.  We believe that the virus may be carried for a limited time on their fur.

Yes. It is important to be extremely careful with cleaning products around your pets. Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers both contain chemicals that can cause serious organ damage and/or death to your dog, and pets. We recommend hand washing with soap and water and use of hand sanitizers only when absolutely necessary. Let it dry thoroughly before petting your dog and don’t let your dog lick your hand immediately following application. Be sure to keep any disinfecting wipes out of reach of your animals, as they can cause poisoning and even fatalities of your animals.

You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people who are sick limit contact with animals until more information is known. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask. The case of service dogs would be different since they are doing important and often lifesaving tasks for their recipients. Since the concern is not transmitting the virus to the dog, it may be possible for the dog to carry the shedding virus in his/her fur. Do not let other people pet your service dog as even if those individuals appear healthy and not exhibiting symptoms, they can still be carrying the virus. If you are the person that was sick, your dog could be carrying the virus which the unsuspecting stranger could get if they pet your dog. Fortunately, we don’t believe the virus will live more than a couple of weeks in the fur, but we don’t have any solid data on that yet.