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This page is for Frequently Asked Questions regarding obtaining a service dog from Bergin University. For FAQs about becoming a student at BUCS, please click here.

Q: How do I arrange a visit to BUCS’s campus?

A: The University welcomes visitors! To schedule a visit to our Santa Rosa Campus, please call 707.545.3647 and or email info@berginu.edu. Tours are given weekly for approximately one hour after which Dr. Bonnie Bergin is available for questions and answers. We are happy to show you around our training facility. You can look in on classes in session, see videos that have been done on our work, meet the staff, and pet some dogs! (Please do not bring your own dog with you, unless it’s an Assistance Dog).

Q: Can you provide a speaker to make a presentation at our event?

A: Our PR and Community Relations staff members are happy to work with you to accommodate your requests. Please contact info@berginu.edu

Q: Is BUCS associated with Canine Companions for Independence?

A: Dr. Bonita Bergin, our President and CEO, founded Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) over 30 years ago. However, Bergin University of Canine Studies (BUCS), home of the Assistance Dog Institute, is not affiliated with CCI.

Q: Are donations to BUCS tax deductible?

A: Yes, BUCS is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation and, as such, your contributions are tax deductible.

Q: What’s the difference between a Service Dog and an Assistance Dog?

A: A Service Dog helps people that have mobility impairments by doing such tasks as opening doors, pulling a wheelchair and retrieving dropped objects. They are one type of Assistance Dog. Some other types of Assistance Dogs are Hearing Dogs, Guide Dogs and Social/Therapy dogs.

Our Dogs

Q: Can I get a Service Dog from BUCS? How do I apply?
A: How to request a Service Dog from BUCS is described in detail in the "Our Dogs and Pups" section of this site.

Q: How long is the wait for a Service Dog from BUCS?

A: On average, the timeframe is 18 to 24 months. We use social style matching between a person and a dog to identify an optimum pairing of a Service Dog team. So, it depends on when a dog that is the correct match is available.

Q: What is the fee to obtain a Service Dog?

A: The fee is $2783. This includes $25 application fee, $558 for client training and $2200 for the service dog.

Q: Do you train Seizure Alert Dogs?

A: Our college curriculum includes training methodology for Service Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Guide Dogs, and Social/Therapy Dogs. We do not train Seizure Alert Dogs.

Q: What breeds of dogs are most successful as Service Dogs?

A: Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are the breeds most commonly trained and placed by many programs. However, individual dogs of many other breeds and breed crosses have been successfully placed as Service Dogs as long as they have the right aptitude for their job.

Q: Do you use rescued dogs?

A: We find that having our own breeding program enables us to reliably produce topnotch Service Dogs with low-aroused temperament and high levels of skill. We do train rescued dogs as Hearing Dogs however.

Q: What is your graduation rate (% of dogs graduating vs. dogs that begin training)?

A: One of the challenges in the industry is that the graduation rates are often as low as 30%. Our research in early puppyhood training is aimed at dramatically improving that statistic.

Q: What happens to the dogs that don’t graduate? Can I adopt one?
A: BUCS is proud to have a high rate of dogs that graduate as Service Dogs, Facility Dogs and Social/Therapy Dogs. Infrequently a released dog may be available for adoption.

BUCS University Programs

Q: Do you accept international applicants? Are there any special requirements?

A: Yes, BUCS welcomes international students. Students must follow the procedures regulated by their M-1 visa status. Immigrant visa residents must provide their assigned “A-number” or verification of legal residency in California. BUCS offers no visa services. Classes are taught in English so proficiency is critical. Applicants whose native language is not English and who did not attend a secondary school or college where English was the language of instruction, are required to provide their TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test results. No formal tests are administered for those applicants who did attend a secondary school or college where English was the language of instruction. The individual interview [in person or by phone] and email communications between the applicant, the Chief Academic Officer, and University staff will be used to assess the language skills of the applicant.

Q: Does the college offer programs other than the Associate of Science degrees?

A: Yes, in addition to AS degrees in Assistance Dog Education and in Business and Companion Dog Studies, we offer a Bachelor’s degree in Cynology (canine studies) and a Master’s degree in Canine Life Sciences. Several certificate programs are also offered.

Access Rights

Q: Are business owners required to allow Assistance Dogs on planes, trains, in rental housing, hotels, shops restaurants etc.

A: Yes, in the United States, there are both federal and state laws that mandate access for people with disabilities when accompanied by Assistance Dogs. See Access Rights for more details.

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