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How expensive is a service animal? Top tips for financing
Dogs really are man’s (and woman’s) best friend—and trained service dogs can offer even more than the typical pet can.
The most common service dogs help with epilepsy, mobility and blindness and they can also serve those with diabetes, allergies and other health concerns. From assisting with daily tasks like picking up items for someone with limited mobility, or helping lead a person who is blind across the street, service dogs can provide renewed independence for those with disabilities.
While service dogs provide priceless support, the cost of one can raise some eyebrows, and the adoption process can take anywhere from two to six months. Training can range from $7,000 to $30,000, depending on what skills the dog will need to learn, like how to detect a seizure before it happens, or how to alert when a diabetic’s blood sugar is low.
Although insurance does not cover service animals, if you have a medical disability that necessitates having a service dog, there are still ways to pay for it. Here are a few financing options as you prepare to bring your dog home:
Create a budget and see where you can cut back. Saving takes time and isn’t always easy, but when you finally meet your dog for the first time, you’ll know it was all worth it. And while skipping small purchases may not seem like a lot at first, the savings will add up—and help with the service-animal cost.
Start a fundraising campaign.
Consider creating a fundraising page so friends and family who want to help can donate. You can do this by starting a GoFundMe, or you can go through organizations like 4 Paws for Ability and Little Angel Service Dogs, which also offer fundraising options. However, fundraising through this route can take months, and there is often a wait list.
Apply for a grant.
Several nonprofit organizations provide financial assistance for people seeking to adopt a service animal. The Gift of Sunshine, for example, offers The Hope Chest, which will donate $2,000 each to Partner Programs. To receive this benefit, individuals must go through the adoption process with a participating program. See the full list of Partner Program Participants here.
Get a consumer loan.
While fundraising and grants are great ways to help secure the funds, a consumer loan may also help you get the funds you need, faster. “Providing loans for service animals and special needs equipment is not unusual for LightStream,” said spokesperson Kristin Shuff. “Our team is always happy when they can approve a loan that improves someone’s capabilities, accessibility or safety.”
When you have a medical need, obtaining a service animal can be a critical factor in safeguarding your health and wellbeing. Speak with your medical provider to investigate whether you qualify for assistance under the bylaws of the American Disability Association. You may find there are solutions available to help achieve your goal.