Frequently Asked Questions About Adopting a Career Change Dog
Why are some dogs dropped from GDB's program?
Dogs are released for two general reasons: medical or behavioral issues. Most of the issues don't necessarily preclude the dogs from being good pets, but are impractical for working guides.
40% of career change dogs are released due to medical issues such as:
- Varying severities of dysplasia (hip and elbow)
60% are released due to behavioral issues:
- High activity levels
- Incompatibility with cats or other dogs
- Assertiveness requiring strong handler leadership
Some dogs might not be suitable for homes with young children or other pets. Some dogs need adopters with superior handling skills. All require a commitment from their adoptive families to spend the time, energy and possible expense of addressing the individual dog's issues in order to make the match work. Obedience and agility competitors, search and rescue trainers, tracking enthusiasts and others in dog-related fields are encouraged to apply!
How long is the wait to adopt a career change dog?
There is no way to know how long the wait will be for a dog. We receive many more applications for adoption than we have dogs available. Therefore, our selection process is based on suitability rather than on a first-come, first-served basis. The dogs are adopted by matching the needs of both the dog and the potential adopting family.
How many dogs do you place in a year? How many applications do you have on file?
California campus: approximately 130 career change dogs placed per year
Oregon campus: approximately 80 career change dogs placed per year
Our two campuses share a common database of applications. Because we have thousands of applicants looking for easily-managed, well-trained dogs, we welcome new applications from experienced dog handlers and trainers looking for higher energy, more assertive dogs.
How much training have the dogs had?
The amount of training varies widely. Most of the dogs are housetrained and have had at least some exposure to basic obedience commands. Dogs can be dropped at any stage in our program.
What kind of veterinary care have the dogs had?
Dogs are spayed or neutered and have received vaccinations and heartworm preventative prior to being placed in adoptive homes. In addition, the dogs have had hip and elbow X-rays, and eye examinations by an ophthalmologist. Adopters are given the dog's complete medical history.
How much is the fee to adopt a career change dog? The adoption fee is $750. Our goal is to make the best match for each dog and adopter.
What are the fencing requirements and what's the approval process?
We require that there be a fenced area at least five feet in height. It must be a safe and secure area with no obvious hazards to a dog. A kennel run can also meet our requirements (pre-fabricated runs are available from hardware or home improvement stores); runs must be a minimum of 6'wide x 12' long x 6' high. If you do not currently have an approved enclosure, but are willing to install one within a few days of being notified of a potential dog match, please indicate this on the application. However, putting up a fence or kennel run does not guarantee receipt of a dog.
Fence checks are done only after the Dog Placement office has made a potential match, and you are interested in coming to campus to meet the dog. A volunteer will coordinate a fence check with you; it is your responsibility to ensure that fencing requirements are met prior to taking an adopted dog home.
Can you send someone out to do a fence check to "pre-approve" us prior to being matched with a dog?
It is not possible for us to pre-approve a fence or enclosure prior to placement. Once a potential match has been made, fence checks are conducted on a case-by-case basis.
Is electric or invisible fencing acceptable?
Electric or invisible fencing does not meet our requirements for a couple of reasons:
- The lack of a physical boundary means that the dog is subject to theft or attack by other dogs.
- The dog may be "zapped" as it chases a cat or squirrel out of the yard but not notice it because it is intently focused on the chase. However, when the dog attempts to re-enter the yard, the "zapping" it receives could become a deterrent.
How do I apply to adopt a career change dog?
If you meet the career change adoption criteria, please complete our secure dog adoption application. The link is available in the right-hand column on this page.
Do I need to fill out separate applications for each campus (California and Oregon)?
Only one application is necessary; both of our Guide Dog campuses share a common database. The application provides an opportunity for you to indicate which campus you are able to travel to in order to meet a dog (a campus visit to personally meet the dog is required).
How do I check on the status of my application?
You will be notified that we have received your application. Your application will be active in our database for a two-year period (or until a successful match is made, whichever comes first). At the end of the two-year period, if you're still interested in obtaining a career change dog, you'll need to submit a new application.
Can I drop by the campus to talk with you further about a dog?
The Dog Placement staff is unable to meet with applicants on a drop-in basis. We'll contact you if we need further information or if we have a dog that may be suitable. However, our campuses always welcome visitors, and we encourage you to come by for a tour! Visit the tours section of this site for more information.