how to apply

Shelter Animals

We exclusively place pre-evaluated, shelter animals. Many of these animals received a second chance after facing an uncertain future in a public shelter. We assess aptitude through evaluation at the shelter and for a period in a foster home. Every animal selected is matched with  someone with an invisible disability or a facility staff member to meet  their specific needs.

Learn more about applying to Joybound’s Shelter to Service program.

Working Animals

For aspiring service dogs, teams complete training curriculum together, deepening their bond while building new skills. Under the guidance of our skilled, professional trainers, our service dog candidates learn obedience, public access skills, and to perform a minimum of three tasks to help alleviate the handler’s disability. Tasks may include deep pressure therapy, medication reminders, and more, to meet each individual’s needs.

“My service dog has changed my life and brought me back to me.”

Ethan, Shelter to Service Graduate

Unlike service dog programs costing thousands of dollars and involving long waitlists, our team matches applicants with dogs quickly and at no cost.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Service dog candidates are carefully assessed and selected to meet each handler’s needs.  While our team takes applicant’s preferences into consideration, such as breed, size, energy level, etc., Shelter to Service prioritizes matching candidates that best fit the participant’s described lifestyle when screening dogs for qualities including focus, confidence, affiliation to handlers, calmness, and response to reward-based training.

Free, professional training helps handlers teach pre-evaluated dogs the public access skills and tasks necessary to become service dogs. In person training is a requirement for service dog certifications. This includes participating in two classes per week for at least 12 weeks and recertifying on an annual basis following graduation. The service tasks the dogs learn are customized for each participant, and may include alerting to oncoming panic attacks, deep pressure therapy, creating space in a crowded public area, and more. 

Veteran adopters are provided with a supply of preventative medications, Purina® pet food, and additional supplies from Pet Food Express. 

Psychiatric service dogs can provide benefits to individuals with invisible disabilities that include:

  • Reducing anxiety, panic, depression, and other symptoms of PTSD
  • Helping build confidence and provide stability 
  • Inspiring sociability, relationship building, and improving positive outlook
  • Establishing routines and self-care practices
  • Renewing sense of purpose and focus on achieving goals
  • Relieving feelings of isolation
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Lowering blood pressure

Facility Animals

Facility animal candidates are carefully assessed and selected to best support facility staff and clients achieve their goals. Joybound does not consider breed mix as a factor in selection, and screens dogs and cats for qualities including focus, confidence, human affiliation , calmness, and response to reward-based training. 

Free, professional training helps the facility staff handler teach the pre-evaluated facility dogs the tasks needed to help staff and clients on a daily basis. In person training is a requirement for facility dog certifications. This includes participating in two classes a week for at least 12 weeks and recertifying on an annual basis following graduation.

Although facility animals do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a facility dog is required to pass the same public access test that service dogs are required to pass. A facility dog is not a service dog because they do not work with a single individual to alleviate the symptoms of that individual’s disability.

Facility animals can provide benefits to facility settings that include:

  • Increasing client or patient motivation
  • Promoting increased participation in treatment or activities
  • Providing feelings of security and belonging
  • Increasing social interaction and relieving social pressure
  • Improving facility staff morale


“This is by far the most powerful intervention we’ve tried with this Veteran in the six years I’ve been working with him. This is exactly what we’d hoped for. This dog has done amazing things for him. He’s smiling, excited, and lively.”

– David J., Ph.D. Oakland Vet Center 

“Veterans sometimes just need someone to watch their back — someone they can depend on, someone that depends on them. These dogs provide all of this and more for Veterans.” 

– Matthew D., LMSW Social Worker

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