Our Process

Each individual seeking a service dog presents a unique collection of symptoms which may change over time. Accordingly, those of us who train dogs to be paired with individuals suffering a disability are charged with accessing our dog’s personality and fostering the animal-human bond allowing the dog’s innate sensory perception to recognize the circumstances of their human partner’s needs and respond appropriately.


Step One: Application

Submit the completed application with the following documents:

    1. Photograph of you and/or child or young adult seeking a service dog, if unable to meet in person;
    2. One letter of reference from a relative not residing in your household;
    3. One letter of reference from a friend or professional who has known your child or the young adult for at least one (1) year;
    4. $100 (non-refundable) application fee;
    5. Confirmation of Disability and Diagnosis Prescription (form provided with application) completed by the recipient’s physician; and,
    6. Signed Release of Information (form provided with application).

Step Two: In-Person Interview

Once your application is reviewed, our Autism/Diability Specialist will contact you to set a time for an at-home interview. Both parents/care givers must be present for this interview.

Step Three

This step includes an assessment of your interaction with one of our dogs in training and completion of additional paperwork and agreements.

Step Four: Fundraising

Perfect Fit Canines will provide you with a list of fundraising ideas and funding resources.  Once you have reached the required donation, you and/or your child will be moved to a pre-placement list and our staff will further assess the skill set of the dogs ready to enter final team training camp with your needs.

As a 501(c) (3) nonprofit we rely on your required donation to operate on a day-to-day basis, including the cost to train a service dog to fit your needs.  The donations ae made to Perfect Fit Canines under our EIN number and are tax deductible to the donor. Some service dog groups provide their dogs at “no cost to the recipient” which is often misunderstood to mean “free”.  However, those agencies have received donations for the funding from large national campaigns, etc. and their waiting list to receive an application and begin the process to become a client is often 2-4 years.

Please note that placement is based upon our ability to make the “perfect” match not on the date you entered the program or the date you completed fundraising.

Step Five: Final Team Training Camps

  1. Final Team Training Camps will be held on a quarterly basis.
  2. You will be invited to a Final Team Training Camp to meet and interact with several dogs possessing the skills appropriate to meet your needs.
  3. At some point prior to being invited to the camp you and your child will have completed our Animal Assisted Play Therapy Program. Our behavior specialist will work with you and/or your child to prepare you for camp and for facilitating interaction of your child with a service dog. This pre-camp counseling program is also available to adult recipients.
  4. If you are unable to attend a camp when invited because of work or school or other personal commitments, you will be invited to the next scheduled camp.
  5. All camps are two weeks in length and are held in Pittsburgh, PA
  6. Travel costs to Pittsburgh are your responsibility.

After graduation, client contact with Perfect Fit Canines is required as set forth in the Transfer Agreement which is executed at the end of Final Team Training Camp. Post-placement training is available during the transition period.  If additional training is needed, local clients are always welcome to attend Perfect Fit Canines training clinic which are typically held on Sunday afternoons.  Advanced training, or training of a new task to assist with a new condition is also available on a one-to-one basis.  Costs will vary. Service Dog Teams are recertified every 24 months to ensure they are working at the required proficiency.  As a dog ages, and nears retirement, a client should apply for a successor dog by completing an updated application.  Discounts apply.