U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

What services are available regarding service dogs and guide dogs?

To support an active and independent lifestyle, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits for guide and service dogs. The job of a guide dog is to assist the blind. A service dog assists someone with a severe to profound hearing impairment or someone with a physical impairment that substantially limits mobility.

Veterans enrolled in VA health care may be eligible for a guide/service dog.  A referral is made to a specialist from the primary care provider.  The Veteran’s VA medical team will perform a complete clinical evaluation to determine how best to assist the Veteran.

Each working dog request is reviewed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

VA does not provide guide dogs, rather it coordinates with accredited non-VA agencies that provide working dogs.  Once the Veteran is proficient using the guide dog, the dog will become the Veteran’s property.

Veterinary care for working dogs are provided and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids.  VA does not pay for boarding, grooming, food, or any other routine expense associated with owning a dog

Because the Department of Veterans Affairs uses federal funding to provide service and guide dogs to disabled military veterans at no charge to the individual, there are additional regulations found in 38 C.F.R. 17.148 and laws found at  38 U.S.C. 1714.

Service and guide dogs given to veterans must be trained by accredited (selected) third party organizations.   Service and guide dogs under the Veterans Affairs plans can not be owner trained.