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Accredited by Assistance Dogs International

December 27, 2017

Handi-Dogs Earns Accreditation with Assistance Dogs International

We are pleased to announce that Handi-Dogs, Inc. recently achieved accreditation by Assistance Dogs International (ADI). Handi-Dogs is now the only accredited organization in Southern Arizona and one of just three organizations accredited in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

ADI is an international coalition of not for profit assistance (service) dog organizations. Their purpose is to: improve the training, placement, and utilization of assistance dogs; improve staff and volunteer education; educate the public about assistance dogs; and advocate for the legal rights of people with disabilities partnered with assistance dogs.

ADI accreditation helps ensure that the organization is:

  • treating dogs humanely,
  • treating clients with respect and dignity, and
  • delivering training in a professional way at all times.

Assistance Dog users trust their lives and safety to their dogs, so everything related to the training of both the dogs and people must meet extraordinary criteria.

The accreditation process included submitting 6 binders of paperwork, a phone interview, and an intensive 23-hour, 2-day on-site assessment. During the course of the visit, assessors interviewed agency staff, volunteers, the Board of Directors, current service dog teams in training, and certified service dog teams. They observed training lessons and were given access to a variety of documents and records.

ADI Assessor, Sheila O’Brien commented, “I’ve done about 50 accreditations spanning 4 continents and your (Handi-Dogs) trainers are some of the best I’ve seen. Their passion and compassion for the individuals, backed up with their knowledge and skills is impressive.” Ms. O’Brien was also extremely complimentary of our office staff, board of directors, and volunteers that round out the Handi-Dogs’ team.

JoAnn Turnbull, President/CEO of Handi-Dogs stated, “Being an ADI accredited organization provides an independent 3rd party review of our operations and programs by industry experts. For our clients, donors and constituents this validates that Handi-Dogs is committed to transparency and maintaining the highest industry standards for both ends of the leash.”

ADI is an international organization setting standards for service dogs across the globe. Many countries and foreign transportation carriers only accept service dogs certified by ADI Accredited organizations. Additionally, in the U.S. the Veterans Administration will pay benefits only for service dogs certified through ADI Accredited organizations.

The following areas were evaluated during the accreditation process.

Program Management

  • Application policies and procedures
  • Team (handler/dog) training (including observation of group classes, private in-home lessons, public access lessons, and prospective dog evaluations)
  • Criteria for screening dogs and clients
  • Ensuring dogs are healthy and happy
  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Record keeping
  • Volunteer support
  • On-going certified team support


  • Compliance with all legal requirements
  • Emergency procedures and safety regulations
  • Risk management
  • Documentation
  • Business practices
  • Governance
  • Written policies and procedures


  • Building and grounds
  • Safety and maintenance

Community Activities

  • Behavior of assistance dogs in the community
  • Community education about assistance dogs

Accreditation is good for 5 years.

To learn more about ADI visit: www.AssistanceDogsInternational.org

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