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Eligibility Requirements


Apply for A Service Dog


We recommend waiting until an open window to submit an eligibility survey. During a closed window, eligibility surveys may not be responded to in a timely manner.

Be sure to review the eligibility requirements below before completing an eligibility survey. Have questions about the process or need more basic information about the program? Visit the “About the Program” page.

Veterans interested in applying for a Hearts of Gold service dog must meet the criteria listed below to be considered for the program. Review the eligibility requirements below and take our eligibility survey to be considered for a service dog. When your eligibility survey is reviewed, you will be contacted with next steps.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must be 18 years of age or older.

  • You must be a veteran of the U.S. Uniformed Services with an honorable or general (under honorable conditions) discharge as indicated on your most recent DD214.

    • Other discharge types will be considered on a case by case basis.

    • You must be released from all military and reserve obligations including Reserves and National Guard duty. Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) is permitted.

  • You must have a mobility and/or a psychiatric disability.

    • Your disability does not have to be service connected.

    • There must be specific tasks which a dog could be trained to mitigate your disability. For more information on tasks please read about service dog tasks at the page linked below.

      Read About Service Dog Tasks
    • You need to currently be under the care of a health care provider who can document your specific need for a service dog (not an emotional support dog). To learn about which type of service dog will suit your needs, visit our  Types of Assistance Dogs page.

      Learn About Types of Assistance Dogs
  • You must live within 100 driving miles of our facility (45 Poultry Loop, Morgantown WV 26505).

  • You must be able to travel to the Hearts of Gold facility, located in Morgantown, WV for initial placement and required follow up (Hearts of Gold may reimburse for mileage and/or lodging).

  • If your disability includes PTSD or any other psychiatric disability, you must currently be in counseling and /or have access to your mental healthcare provider. If currently in counseling, you must remain in mental health treatment for the duration of your training with Hearts of Gold, or until your treatment plan is complete.

    • You must have been seen by your Mental Healthcare provider sometime in the 6 months prior to applying for a service dog.

    • You must have had at least 6 hours of counseling during that time.

  • You must have the ability to take and pass a written and practical examination.

  • You must sign a medical release of information with your healthcare provider and your mental healthcare provider (if you have a psychiatric disability) so that Hearts of Gold staff may speak to them regarding your needs.

  • You must be able to pass a criminal background check, paid for by Hearts of Gold.

  • You must be able to provide proof of income (copies of monthly pay statements, tax documents, bank statements, and disability income verification are accepted) sufficient to support a dog.

If you meet these basic criteria, please continue reading below for other important requirements. If you do NOT meet these basic eligibility criteria please visit Assistance Dogs International to locate a service dog agency that places dogs in your area or nationally.

Other Mandatory Requirements

  • You must be able to meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of a dog and have an adequate support system in place to do so when you are unable to meet those needs yourself.

  • You must have the full support of your family (including any caregivers), your employer, and your landlord, (where applicable), in your quest to receive a service dog.

  • You must be willing and able to commit to the training program and schedule.

  • You must be able to provide financial support for the dog after placement (approximately $2500.00 a year).

Applicants will be considered for partnership with Hearts of Gold regardless of race, color, religion (creed), gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), marital status, sexual orientation, or other categories protected by law.


The application begins with completing the Eligibility Survey. To be considered eligible for a Hearts of Gold Service Dog, applicants must meet the eligibility requirements featured above. After the eligibility survey is reviewed, Hearts of Gold staff will contact you with next steps. If you are eligible, the next step will be completing the application, which will be sent to you.

Take the Eligibility Survey

As a part of the application, the applicant’s physician or mental health provider must complete a Medical History Form. Two personal references must be completed online and a Social Styles questionnaire is completed online. If an application is acceptable, a telephone interview is conducted followed by a home evaluation. Depending on the nature of the applicant’s request for a service dog, a subcommittee of the Hearts of Gold evaluation group further evaluates the application.

We recognize that this is a high level of evaluation that applicants must navigate. Still, with the limited pool of service dogs, Hearts of Gold focuses significant scrutiny early in the process to make the best use of both the applicant’s and Hearts of Gold’s limited resources.

Successful applicants are then invited to become certified as handlers by completing an online course followed by hands-on training. The hands-on training laboratory, including an intensive 3-week summer session, is offered throughout the year. Upon the completion of handler training involving available dogs and an in-home safety evaluation, a successful individual is matched with a Hearts of Gold dog, as available. Following a prospective match, the dog will spend a trial weekend in the applicant’s home followed by an assessment at the Hearts of Gold facility.

Following a successful trial placement and assessment, a one-month probationary period begins, during which preparations are made to have the dog and client undergo the Canine Good Citizen and Public Access tests. 


Need more information about Hearts of Gold Service Dogs? Reach out and we would be happy to answer your questions, or read more on our FAQ page.

Give Us A Call: (304) 470-0726 OR Visit our FAQ page.

Visit Our FAQ Page