General FAQ

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.

How is ASDA Qualified?

Our team is made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds with unique experience and skills. For more information, please see “About Us, Our Trainers.”

How long will it be before my child receives an ASDA service dog?

Due to our current high demand, as well as the time it takes to train each individual service dog, our wait time is between 2-3 years. Many factors contribute to the timing of service dog placement, including the number of available dogs, how quickly an applicant completes the process and raises funds, and when the best match is made.

How old must my child be to receive a service dog?

ASDA does not place service dogs with children under the age of five. We recommend that applications be made early for families with children under the age of five.

How much does ASDA expect to receive in exchange for a service dog?

ASDA expects to receive $16,500 as a donation towards our general operating expenses. This money can be raised through family, friends, grants, and community organizations. Once the family’s contribution is received, your name will be placed in line for the next available and appropriate service dog.

Why must I donate to ASDA in order to receive a service dog?

The average expense in breeding, socializing, raising, training and placing a service dog is over $25,000. Although ASDA receives contributions from the public, does fundraising, and receives grants, in order to operate we also require donations towards the care and training of our service dogs.

What services can a recipient family expect from ASDA?

ASDA provides our families with: A well-bred, trained and socialized ADA compliant autism service dog One week of individual training for the primary caregiver(s) with ASDA staff in Portland, Oregon One week of individualized home and community based training, and in-school placement training, at the recipient’s home

How is a service dog selected for my child?

Our initial application process provides ASDA with the documents and information we need to make a selection. Once approved, we gather more information through telephone interview. Throughout the placement process, ASDA staff continue to be in contact with our families through phone conversations and e-mail communications.

Will my child bond with a service dog that is not a puppy?

Yes. Our service dogs create multiple bonds throughout their training, which translate to their recipient child and family when they are placed. It is not necessary for a service dog to be a puppy for your child to bond with it.

Why are there two phases of training, one in Oregon, and one in my town?

While other agencies have either off-site training (at the agency headquarters), or on-site training (in home), ASDA typically does both. We require the primary caregiver to train with us at ASDA headquarters in Oregon so that they can learn to handle their service dog, become an ADA certified handler, and begin initial bonding. Phase two takes place with our trainer, but in the environment that the dog will actually live and work in. Both phases are essential for long-term success.

Does the ASDA trainer live with the recipient family during on-site training?

No, the placement specialist stays in a nearby hotel. Please note that ASDA trainer’s travel costs must be covered separately from the donation request.

Why can’t the whole family come to ASDA headquarters for training?

We prefer that only the principal caregiver join us at our headquarters in Oregon. This person will establish the initial bond and working relationship with the service dog. The rest of the family will be trained in phase two, on site in their own home. For more information, see the training section under For Families.

Can ASDA train a family pet 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. ASDA service dogs must possess a particular temperament, intelligence, health, age and weight, and are raised from puppyhood in our extensive training program for their important job.

Can a recipient family have other pets?

This is something that is evaluated on an individual basis. While our dogs are well socialized to accept other animals, your pets might not accept a new canine member into the family. We recommend that you evaluate your pets’ ability to accept and tolerate a new canine household member. If you are thinking of adding a pet after you receive an ASDA service dog, remember that additional pets require time and effort.

Can the ASDA service dog go anywhere with my child?

Yes. By federal law (Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA) a service dog is allowed access to any environment your child 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 child, the child does not go anywhere without his or her service dog. Time together solidifies the relationship, keeps skills sharp, and helps the child grow in life skills—time together is not only permissible, but necessary.

Does the service dog attend school with my child?

Yes. Again, under the ADA law, there are no exceptions to where a service dog is allowed.

Is ASDA available to answer questions after the placement is complete?

Yes. ASDA has open communication with all recipient families. Most situations can be handled by phone or email communication.

Can my family receive advanced training after the placement?

Yes, but advanced or specialized training usually requires on-site training by a representative of ASDA. Costs vary.

When will ASDA start taking applications again?

Due to the nature of the cornavirus crisis we simply do not know. ASDA relies heavily on volunteers from the community, and volunterrism is down due to COVID-19 restrictions. The training program is further implacted by how the dogs are trained. They need to be exposed to a variety of environments, including schools, restaurants, movies, festivals, etc. . . We will update our website as we have more information. If you would like to be informed when our application cycle opens again, please use the contact form on the website and we will be happy to email you!

Puppy Raisers

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.