When and why was Summit Assistance Dogs founded?
Summit was founded in March, 2000, by Sue Meinzinger, a graduate of the Assistance Dog Institute in Santa Rosa, California, in response to the overwhelming need for more assistance dogs. There are more than 55 million Americans living with various disabilities, and the wait time for a service dog can be as long as two to five years.
How is Summit Assistance Dogs funded?
The majority of our funding is from generous individual donors. We also receive funding from corporate donors, various organizations and foundation grants. Our graduates are vital in assisting Summit with fundraising, both by their personal donations and by helping us locate new donors. We receive no government funding.
Is my donation tax deductible?
Summit is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. Our tax ID number is 91-2048706.
How many staff members does Summit have?
We currently have seven paid staff, two of whom are part time.
What services does Summit provide?
Summit provides highly trained mobility, hearing and therapy dogs for people with disabilities and educational presentations for service clubs, churches and other community groups.
How many assistance dogs has Summit placed?
See our Graduates Gallery
Applying For a Dog
How do I go about applying for a dog?
The first step is to contact Summit, preferably by e-mail to email@example.com, and provide a brief description of what kind of assistance dog you are interested in (mobility, hearing, or therapy). After discussing your needs and interests, we will determine whether or not Summit is able to provide the kind of assistance dog you want. If we can, we will send you an application packet to complete and submit to us.
What happens after I submit my application?
Please read Applying for a Dog
How far away do you place dogs?
We are willing to discuss placement anywhere. However, graduating with a Summit dog requires many trips to our facility in northwestern Washington State at the recipient’s expense, so we normally find that people who live far from us are happier finding organizations closer to their homes.
How long is the wait for a dog?
This is a difficult question to answer, because there are many factors involved in making the right match of an applicant with a service dog. Some people wait as long as 2–5 years, others may wait only six months. Placements are not on a first-come, first-served basis, but rather on the appropriate match of skills and temperament.
Do I have to pay for my dog?
No, we do not charge our applicants for a dog. We do, however, ask our applicants to contribute as they are able and fundraise as much as they are able. We also request that each qualified applicant submit an application for a scholarship to the Assistance Dog United Campaign.
How much does it cost to train a dog?
Although we do not charge our applicants for the dog, the cost of raising and training a service dog for about two years and providing lifetime follow-up care to our clients is approximately $25,000.
If I get on the waiting list, am I guaranteed a dog?
No. At no time do we offer any kind of guarantee of successful placement. There are too many variables involved to do so.
Is it okay to apply to more than one organization for a dog?
Yes. In fact we encourage it. We do ask, however, that if you know you are getting a dog from another organization, you let us know so we can take you off our waiting list.
Does Summit train all kinds of assistance dogs?
No. Currently Summit trains three kinds of dogs: mobility assistance dogs, hearing assistance dogs, and therapy dogs.
Will Summit help me train my own dog?
Will Summit certify my own dog?
Dog Selection & Training
What breeds of dogs does Summit use?
Summit considers almost any breed or mixed breed for assistance work. The most important thing is not the breed but the specific animal, so we do an immense amount of evaluation and testing on each puppy and dog before they are accepted into the program. Certain breeds (Hounds, Giant breeds, Pit Bulls), however, would normally not be considered due to inherent temperament and/or behavior tendencies or because of negative public perception.
What age of dog does Summit look for?
We accept dogs into our training program from seven weeks to approximately two years of age.
Does Summit use dogs from shelters, breed rescue groups and owners needing to rehome their pets?
Yes. Summit is dedicated to making every effort to use dogs needing to be rehomed. To this end, we have developed a comprehensive evaluation process for these dogs that involves about 16 different tests.
Does Summit produce their own litters?
In our twelve years of existence, we have bred seven litters. The first was born in December 2004, the latest in November 2010.
Does Summit sell any of the puppies from their breeding program?
Yes. If we have a large litter or a puppy that is not suitable for assistance work, we will consider selling.
What methods does Summit use to train the dogs?
Summit dogs are trained using positive reinforcement (food, praise, play) to shape desired behaviors. We structure our training plans to meet the individual needs of each dog.
How long does it take to train a Summit assistance dog?
Summit dogs are in basic training with their puppy raisers until the age of 16-18 months. They are then trained by Summit staff trainers for an additional 4-8 months. They are generally placed with an applicant at approximately two years of age.
What causes dogs to not succeed as assistance dogs?
There are many reasons a dog may not succeed, but the major causes for a dog being released from the program are aggression, fear, poor health and high activity level.
What happens to the dogs that do not succeed?
Summit is totally committed to finding every dog the right ‘forever’ home. Some of our released dogs may go on to other careers such as law enforcement or search and rescue. Some are available as pets. An adoption fee is charged according to the breed of dog and the level of training it has. To view our released dogs available for adoption go to Petfinder.