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  • What does an autism service dog do?
    Autism service dogs provide physical safety and an emotional anchor for children with autism. With their child tethered to a service dog, families are able to engage in activities as simple as going to the park or going out to eat as a family. When out in the community, a service dog increases safety and helps families feel secure. The service dog’s calming presence can minimize and often eliminate emotional outbursts, enabling the child to more fully participate in community and family activities. In many cases, the service dog accompanies the child to school, helping with transitions between activities and locations. Having a service dog helps increase opportunities for the child to develop social and language skills with others. Autism service dogs work with adults in many of the same ways. They can help with self-regulation through deep pressure therapy, interrupt self-harming behaviors, and contribute to a sense of safety and well-being.
  • What is the difference between a service dog, therapy dog, and emotional support animal (ESA)?
    We like this simple infographic to the right to explain the differences. Keep in mind that only service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Another thing to note is that there is no registration for Emotional Support Animals. You may find many websites advertising this service. They are scams.
  • Can a service dog go anywhere?
    Yes. By federal law (Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA) a service dog is allowed access to any environment an individual with autism is allowed access: schools, parks, doctor’s offices, restaurants, beaches, movie theaters, etc. And while the service dog may go out on occasion without the handler, the handler does not go anywhere without his or her service dog.
  • Can a service dog attend school with my child or go to work if paired with an adult?
    Yes. Again, under the ADA law, there are no exceptions to where a service dog is allowed.
  • Can I have our pet dog trained to be an autism service dog?
    Unfortunately, pets have an established role within the family and a transition to service dog status is often unsuccessful. In addition, many breeds do not have the interest or aptitude to be a service dog. Autism service dogs must possess a particular temperament, intelligence, health, age and weight, and extensive training for their important job.
  • How do I find a service dog organization to work with?
    Many people ask their therapy team, special needs parenting groups, disability groups, and also just people they meet in the community that have service dogs. A resource that we recommend is Assistance Dogs International:
  • Does ASDA train and provide service dogs for all disabilities?
    No. At this time, ASDA service dogs are specifically trained to assist individuals on the autism spectrum. Unfortunately we are not accepting new applicants and are only servicing families that have previously received a service dog from us and need a replacement service dog.
  • When will ASDA start taking applications again?
    After being greatly impacted by COVID-19, Autism Service Dogs of America had to make changes to the organization. Currently, we are not accepting new applications. We are only able to serve families which have previously received service dogs and need replacement service dogs.
  • How old is a puppy when it is placed with a puppy-raiser?
    The puppy will be at least four months old.
  • How long does a puppy stay with the puppy-raiser?
    A puppy usually remains with you until it is between 16 and 20 months old. This may vary depending on the individual dog’s development.
  • Do I need dog training experience to be an ASDA puppy-raiser?
    No. It is, however, helpful if you have a pet dog, or had one in the past.
  • Are there meetings to attend with the puppy?
    Yes, once a month, under the direction of an ASDA trainer. The meetings generally last three hours and are held in and around Lake Oswego. These meetings cover training techniques or are socialization excursions, during which you will meet other puppy raisers.
  • Do I have to live in Oregon to raise an ASDA puppy?
    ASDA needs to have our puppy raisers close by to provide adequate support and monitor the dog’s progress as it develops. On occasion we will approve a puppy raiser who lives out of state, but these situations are unique.
  • Do I have to be a member of 4-H to raise an ASDA puppy?
    No. Puppy-raising is an accredited 4-H project; however, adults and non 4-H youth may also raise puppies for our organization.
  • Where does the puppy stay when I’m out of town?
    Puppy raisers frequently help each other out and trade boarding with each other. Or, with ASDA approval, the puppy may be able to accompany you on a trip, because it furthers the pup’s socialization.
  • Can I have other pets while raising an ASDA puppy?
    Yes. Controlled, supervised interaction between an ASDA puppy and other animals is beneficial for the puppy.
  • Where can an ASDA puppy accompany me?
    An ASDA puppy should be exposed to a variety of experiences. Puppy-raisers take pups to malls, grocery stores, school and work, among other places. We encourage occasional trips to noisy, chaotic environments (county fairs, Bullwinkle’s, Chuck E. Cheese) in order to help the puppy adapt to loud, sudden noises and activities.
  • Does an ASDA puppy require any special foods?
    Yes. We require that our puppies be fed our preferred brands of high-quality dry dog food. Puppies should never be fed table scraps or treats from strangers.
  • Who pays for an ASDA puppy’s food and other expenses?
    The raiser pays for food, flea treatment, toys and incidental equipment such as grooming tools, food bowls and a crate, if needed. ASDA supplies identification, leashes, vests and collars. ASDA also provides up to $250 veterinary care reimbursement.
  • Is the cost of raising an ASDA puppy tax deductible?
    Yes. ASDA is a nonprofit charitable organization and all expenses incurred by the raiser (dog food, veterinary bills, gas mileage, etc.) are considered a donation to ASDA. We suggest you consult with a tax advisor about proper IRS documentation requirements.
  • What happens to a puppy that does not become a service dog?
    Known as a “career-change” dog, the puppy is first offered to the raiser to keep as a pet. If you decline, we have a list of applicants eager to offer these dogs loving homes.
  • Is it time-consuming to raise an ASDA puppy?
    Raising an ASDA puppy does involve a time investment. You will be grooming, socializing and caring for the puppy, but we can offer ways in which to incorporate the training into your daily routine.
  • Do puppy-raisers find it hard to return the puppy to ASDA?
    Obviously, puppy-raisers become attached to their dogs; however, they find tremendous satisfaction knowing that these dogs will become loving assistance animals for children with autism. All puppy-raisers are invited to formally present their dog to the recipient family. This will also be your chance to pass on stories about your special dog to its new family.
  • Will I ever hear from my puppy again?
    With the permission of the recipient family, you may be able to communicate regarding progress of dog and child.
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