Service Dogs for Veterans

We provide Service Dogs trained for veterans diagnosed with PTSD as a result of serving in the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts. Other tasks we may train for include assistance with hearing loss, TBI (traumatic brain injury), and moderate physical limitations due to injury.

Our Requirements:

We invite you to fill out an application if you are able to meet the following qualifications. Should you have any extenuating circumstances that may keep you from meeting the qualifications at this time, please contact our office first so that we may talk to you in more detail.

• You are a veteran that has served in the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict. (If you are currently active duty, you must be within 6 months of discharge with no possibility of deployment)
• You are a resident of CA. (to be eligible for a Service Dog, you must be a California resident at the time of placement and for the first year where follow up may be needed)
• You have an adequate support system of family and friends
• You are physically and financially able to take care of a dog in a safe and loving environment
• You are currently in treatment for PTSD and have been for at least 8 consecutive months
• You can provide a referral (when requested) from a licensed psychiatric clinician (VA or private)
• You maintain a regular schedule that includes outings to places such as work, school, or shopping and restaurants.
• You like and want a dog to be with you on a regular basis (including my work place, if applicable).


We reserve the right to decline an application for a Service Dog of any veteran applicant that currently lives with one or more other dogs. We will consider every application and make reasonable and educated assumptions on compatibility between dog(s) living with a veteran applicant and a Service Dog based on gender and temperaments of Service Dogs currently in training; as well as on the ability of a veteran living with other dog(s) to properly bond with a Service Dog.

All of our Service Dogs are certified for public places.

The Application Process:

Our application is available to be downloaded at the bottom of this page. If you are not able to print it out, please phone our office and we will be happy to mail one. Any information that you share with us will be kept confidential and not shared with anyone that you have not given us permission to do so.

Once we receive your application, you will be sent (2) personal reference forms (1or more) Medical Information Forms (if you are regularly treated for a physical condition) and (1) Health Evaluation form which is to be given to your mental health provider and will serve as your referral. Once we receive your referral and other forms by mail, we will contact you if we will be able to consider your application for an in-home interview.

The purpose of an in-home interview is to determine if one of our dogs is able to be helpful for you. If you are accepted for one of our Service Dogs, we will place you on our wait list which can be up to a one year wait. If we are not able to accept your application to our wait list, we will refer you to other agencies.

If you are matched with a Service Dog, an in-home placement will be scheduled with you and you can expect to work with a trainer in public setting and in your home for several or more hours over a period of 3-5 days. If you live locally to Malibu, some of that orientation may be done at the Foundation prior to a trainer working with you in your home and in public. Following placement, there will be regular follow up scheduled that may be done in writing, over the phone and in person. Follow up is ongoing during the life of your dog and vital to your success as a team.

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Private institutions such as churches are not included under the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) and may elect not to permit an Assistance Dog entry. Additionally, the Veteran’s Administration recently passed a law that only permits Assistance Dogs to enter a VA if they come from an accredited program. We are currently not an accredited program; however, this may change in future. ADI ( has a list of accredited programs that offer Psychiatric Service Dogs.

Our Service Dogs are trained to the tasks listed below. Additional tasks that we may train for a veteran are discussed during the in-home interview.

Cover My Front: Dogs are trained to move from a "left side position" to a "front side position" in order to create a spatial boundary between the veteran and public.
Cover My Back: Dogs are taught to turn, sit and face the opposing direction from the veteran, creating a sense of security and reducing stress.
Balance: Where balance might be affected by medication used in treatment for PTSD and/or TBI, our dogs are taught to stand still in position when they feel a moderate weight applied to their shoulder and back. A veteran with balance challenges is taught how to use their dog properly to regain balance again.

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About Service Dogs for Veterans

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can develop after exposure to any events that result in psychological trauma. Studies show that 1 in 5 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD. Over the last 7 years, an estimated 20% or over 300,000 veterans has PTSD.

The Sam Simon Foundation launched its Service Dog program in response to the growing need of veterans coping with PTSD as a result of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict. A Service Dog is not a cure for PTSD, but whose skills and companionship can be an aid for managing the symptoms and promoting well-being.

Our dogs are specially selected from local shelters based on their temperament and breed. Most of our Service Dogs will be retrievers or retriever types. They are generally between 1-2 years old at the time of their placement. Some may be more energetic than others and so the exercise requirement will vary from dog to dog. Their training time with us is approximately 5-6 months. About 1 out of every 4 dogs will make it through the training to graduation. Dogs that do not complete training are placed for adoption locally and are coined “Career Change Dogs”.

Because we also provide Hearing Dogs to people deaf and hard of hearing, we are only able to place a very small number of Service Dogs. Therefore, we can only select those applicants that demonstrate the most need as well as have a lifestyle and support system suitable for a dog. However, any applicant that we must decline, we will refer to other agencies.

There is no fee to receive a trained Service Dog. All funding for this program is provided for by The Sam Simon Foundation Giving Fund

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Is a Service Dog right for you?

While a Service Dog is rewarding for many, it isn’t going to be the answer for everyone. A lot of consideration needs to be given to the amount of time, ability and finances needed to take care of a dog. Having a Service Dog not only means daily training, but also daily exercise as well as a consistent routine. Exercise might include a daily walk of at least a mile, a game of retrieve or a good romp at the dog park. They need to be able to eat a high quality food and get out at least 3 or more times a day to relieve themselves.

A Service Dog is with his or her partner most of every day, going into the work place, school or stores. It is only natural that Service Dogs will attract the attention of the public. They will be curious when they see a working dog and want to know more about what they do. Veterans with a Service Dog should be prepared for these types of encounters and may even want to prepare a response in anticipation.

Veterans that live with family members or friends need their cooperation and support with a Service Dog. Are all members of the household willing to live with a dog in the home? Do they all like being around dogs? Are they willing to assist with the care and behavior of a Service Dog?

We are not able to place a dog where there are family members living with allergies to dogs. All of our Service Dogs will shed fur and none would be considered hypo-allergenic.

Most of our Service Dogs are still adolescents and may make mistakes with their house manners or training. They may need gentle reminders of household rules as well as practice in their obedience commands and tasks. This will require patience and a positive attitude.

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© 2015 The Sam Simon Foundation