Home Apply for an Assistance Dog The Process

Blue Ridge Assistance Dogs (BRAD) trains assistance dogs to meet needs of individuals with disabilities. As a small nonprofit organization, we pride ourselves in the ability to work closely with our clients and tailor the training of our dogs to meet your specific needs. We serve individuals covering a wide range of disabilities including: autism, seizures, mobility problems or impairments, balance problems, diabetes, post traumatic stress disorder, and other medical conditions.

BRAD accepts applications from the Virginia, Maryland and DC areas. If you are looking for an assistance dog but do not reside in one of those locations, please check the Assistance Dog International web site for the organization closest to you.

About the Application Process: The application process typically lasts between 6-8 months and may take longer depending on how many dogs we have available at any given time. If this application process seems lengthy, it is – by design. BRAD wants to ensure that you fully understand the responsibilities that come with an assistance dog. The rewards of owning an assistance dog are great, but so are the day-to-day responsibilities.

Our Application Review Committee: BRAD’s application process is a multi-step process. At each step, the BRAD Application Review Committee will review your information and determine whether or not they believe you would benefit from a BRAD assistance dog and if you should continue through the process. Our Application Review Committee is made up of several dedicated BRAD representatives, each from a different background and with a different perspective. Please know that it is our policy and practice to consider and select applicants and train clients for the programs without regard to race, culture, religion, age, gender, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, veteran’s status, and other categories protected by law. The intent is to serve a culturally diverse clientele consistent with all applicable laws.

Meet BRAD’s Client Services Manager: We understand the process seems complicated and long, but we’re here to help you through it! So, before we go through the multi-step application process, let’s introduce our Client Services Manager, Cheryl. Cheryl is a volunteer with Blue Ridge Assistance Dogs and is here to make sure you have one point of contact you can always call on. She’ll help you understand the process, facilitate the next steps, answer questions and provide whatever support you need in this exciting and very important time. To reach Cheryl, just call the main BRAD number or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Application Process:

  • STEP 1: Contact BRAD. After reviewing our web site, please contact BRAD at 703-369-5878 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about our assistance dogs and to request a preliminary application. Cheryl will speak with you to learn more about your needs and to provide you with initial information about the program.
  • STEP 2: Preliminary Application Stage. If Cheryl believes that you will benefit from a BRAD assistance dog, she will mail a preliminary application form which you will need to fill out and return. Upon receipt of your preliminary application form, the BRAD Application Review Committee will review it and determine if you are eligible to proceed with the application process.
  • STEP 3: Personal Interview Stage. If your preliminary application is accepted, someone from BRAD will contact you by phone to arrange for a personal interview. The personal interview is held at the BRAD facility in Manassas, VA. Two representatives of BRAD and at least one BRAD dog will participate in the personal interview. The interview is approximately 2 ½ to 3 hours long. A $100 application fee is collected at the time of the personal interview. The application fee will be applied to the full cost of Team Training and is nonrefundable. Following the interview, the Application Review Committee will meet to review the results of the personal interview and determine if the applicant would benefit from a BRAD assistance dog.
  • STEP 4: Secondary Application. If the Application Review Committee determines, based on the personal interview, that you are eligible to continue the process with BRAD we will mail you the secondary application. The secondary application will have multiple parts that you and other individuals will need to complete.
  • STEP 5: Home Visit. Once all parts of your secondary application are received, Cheryl will contact you to schedule a home visit. One or two representatives from BRAD as well as one BRAD assistance dog will visit your home for a 2 - 3 hour visit. Upon receipt of your completed secondary application and completion of the home visit, the Application Review Committee will review all information on file and notify you whether you are eligible or not to continue the process.
  • STEP 6: Team Training. If your secondary application and home visit are accepted – Congratulations - you are now accepted into the BRAD program! Our goal at BRAD is to provide the best match possible for both you and the assistance dog. We will contact you when a suitable dog has been identified and we will schedule team training. Team training will take a minimum of 2 ½ weeks but can vary depending on the client and needs. However, in the meantime, feel free to attend some of our regularly scheduled training classes so that you can learn more about service dogs and training – and after attending a few classes, you can work with the trainers to practice commands.


Payment: Did you know that BRAD assistance dogs have over two years of training? Each dog begins training the day they are born (by learning to love being with humans) up to and even after team training. As a small nonprofit organization, in order to conduct our in depth training, we must charge a fee for the team training portion of the process. Each client accepted into the BRAD program is responsible to pay $7,000 (2/3 of the fee ($4,667) is due before team training begins and the balance is due at the end of team training). Don’t let the fee prevent you from inquiring about an assistance dog. BRAD can offer information on scholarships and ways to raise money.