Service dogs are life changing in so many ways; they can help individuals who suffer from psychiatric disabilities, seizures, diabetes, autism and more. Unfortunately, these helpful service animals who do so much to improve the lives of their owners do not come cheap, and their training and purchase is rarely covered by insurance. According to Carlen Haag, Fundraising Coordinator for Little Angels Service Dogs in Jamul, California, the average service dog will graduate with over 600 hours of training. Added to the expense of training the dog comes the need for veterinary care, boarding, grooming, food, and training supplies. Together, these expenses make for a hefty price tag.

Michelle Ashley, the Founder of a nonprofit service dog organization called Domesti-PUPS in Lincoln, Nebraska, gives us a look into the extensive process it takes to select and train service dogs. First of all, proper puppy selection is required. Breeding programs are helpful when selecting a suitable service dog candidate because genetics play a big part in whether the breeding parents will produce the right temperament, drive and health of an appropriate service dog.

Next comes training. In the Domesti-PUPS program, puppies are raised for the first year by puppy raisers, and then move on to be trained by inmates in prisons. At the prisons, the service dogs undergo advanced training and learn to do things like open doors, pull wheelchairs, provide balance, and respond to medical crises. While the inmates volunteer their time to train the service dogs, there is expense in providing housing, food, training, and equipment. Additional volunteers are needed on weekends to take the service dogs out of the prisons where they can continue their socialization and practice their commands in different environments. Expenses are incurred during this weekend training as well because volunteers are provided with the necessary equipment to care for the service dogs.

With the cost of training, equipment, supplies and care taken into account, service dog training organizations nationwide spend an average of $30,000 to $40,000 on each trained assistance dog. Some organizations, such as Little Angels and Domesti-PUPS, are able to bring this price down with the help of volunteers and fundraising. Still, the price tag of a service dog remains rather high even after the organization assists the owner with funding the purchase of the dog. This is where Red Basket becomes a vital part of pairing a service dog with its owner.

Red Basket is proud to partner with a number of service dog organizations, including Little Angels and Domesti-PUPS. Since our creation in 2012, we have helped more than 40 individuals raise funds in order to purchase their much needed service dogs. Don’t let the price tag of a service dog deviate you from the help you or someone you know may need. Let Red Basket help you fundraise!

Click here to start your free Red Basket fundraiser.

Lauren Fischer
Communications Specialist
Lauren is the Communications Specialist for She writes content for the blog, social media and other materials, as well as secures media coverage for projects!