Do you know what I’m tired of hearing? “I have a right to my emotional support animal.”

The truth is unless your pup is a trained service animal, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

Recently, service dog statistics are making headlines in the US. The government has to enforce new laws on emotional support animals.

And we know that service dogs are vital to the wellbeing of the disabled, so let’s find out more about these fantastic animals. 

Little Known Service Dog Facts

  • 61 million adults in the US live with disabilities.
  • In 2019, there were nearly 200,000 emotional support animals in the US.
  • 50%–70% of dogs don’t make it through service training.
  • Training a psychiatric service dog takes one to two years.
  • Puppies spend 14–18 months with their trainers.
  • Over 65,000 emotional support animals were registered between 1995–2015.
  • 89% of service animal owners report interference at some point.

Service Dogs Candidate Statistics

Service dogs are a fundamental part of helping people with disabilities. Let’s have a look at those who need them the most.

1. Currently, 61 Million Adults in the US Live With Disabilities

(Source: CDC)

  • That’s 26% of the adult population or approximately one in four people.
  • 4.6% of them are blind or have difficulty seeing.
  • Additionally, 6.8% have an independent living disability, meaning they struggle to do errands alone.

Service dog statistics in 2022 show that we have a long way before every person in need gets a four-legged assistant.

2. One in Four American Women Has a Disability 

(Source: CDC)

  • 28.2% of those with disabilities smoke, and 38.2% are obese.
  • One in three adults with a disability has struggled to meet their healthcare needs in terms of cost in 2020. 
  • 13.7% of US adult disabilities are mobility issues.

Now that you know how many people live with disabilities, let’s focus on a different aspect of the issue.

Emotional Support Animal Statistics

It’s not just the physically disabled that need assistance.

3. In 2019, There Were Nearly 200,000 Emotional Support Animals in the US

(Source: NY Times)

  • In 2014, there were merely 2,400. 
  • Service dog emotional support statistics show dozens of laws passed between 2018–2020 to protect people in need of a service animal. Previously, some abused emotional support animal laws. But more on that a bit later.
  • Disabled Americans received 17,534 service dogs In 2018.

Psychiatric service dog statistics are different from emotional support animals. 

4. Training a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) Takes One to Two Years

(Source: Healing Companions)

  • To obtain a fully-trained PSD, you need to fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act, showing a limited function due to mental illness.
  • Emotional support animals aren’t under the same laws as service animals, especially if it concerns the recently changed airline laws in 2021. Heads up, you can’t take an emotional support animal on a plane anymore.
  • A PSD can help a range of mental disabilities, like clinical depression, anxieties, phobias, and PTSD. It can cost between $20,000–$30,000 for training, vet visits, food, care, and other expenses.

Having a psychiatric service dog is a massive responsibility. Plus, with so much that goes into training, losing your pup can be scary. That’s why more and more owners consider a GPS dog collar to put their minds at ease.

poodle wearing a service dog jacket

5. 49 Studies on Animal-Assisted Therapy Have Positive Outcomes

(Source: Psychology Today)

  • Animal-assisted therapy has shown to be incredibly helpful for autism, behavioral issues, depression, addictions, and schizophrenia.
  • 60% of hospice care providers offer pet therapy to patients. 
  • Adults who’ve had hip replacement surgery and make use of a therapy dog require 50% less pain medication

As you can see, animals can help with a wide range of problems. But what does it take to become a service animal?

Statistics of Service Dog Training

Pup’s don’t just arrive trained and ready to go. It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to get them to this point. That’s one of the biggest differences between support animals and service dogs. 

6. 50%–70% of Dogs Don’t Make It Through Service Training 

(Source: American Kennel Club)

  • Training a service animal isn’t easy and takes between one and two years to complete.
  • What’s more, the cost to train a fully-certified service dog can be as much as $25,000.
  • Dog behavioral training for service animals starts with socialization. Next, they learn to perform specific tasks related to disability. A dog’s usually trained to attend to one set of disability needs. For example, it can detect low blood sugar levels and warn its owner. 

It helps to start with a pup that naturally has high training abilities, like the Mini Poodle. But that’s not even half of it. Service dog statistics show us more about what’s required.

7. Puppies Spend 14–18 Months With Their Trainers

(Source: Pet Coach)

  • Extreme socialization means that pups can handle high-stress situations and endure densely populated areas like trains, buses, airplanes, shops, and restaurants. It’s not exactly socializing in the way we understand it.
  • After the initial evaluation, a dog will spend another three to nine months with its designated person for task training. Surprisingly, anyone can help train the pups. If you’re a dedicated and hardworking member of the public ready to help in your spare time, consider this opportunity to make an impact.
  • In a study of 8,000 assistant dogs, one of the main reasons for failing training was pulling on the leash. 

While service dogs receive extensive training, every pet should know some basic dog commands.

Types of Service Dogs Stats

There’s a range of service animals, but dogs are the most popular, particularly for some disabilities.

8. 5,437,988 Americans Have Autism

(Source: CDC)

  • Autism is a disability that affects sensory information processing. Many people that have it avoid social situations and get little exercise because they fear being in public.
  • Unfortunately, due to the sheer amount of people in need of service dogs for sensory disabilities, it can take between one and four years to find the right match.
  • Service dogs have a very positive effect on people with autism, especially on children. They can help them calm down and refocus while also preventing repetitive behavior that might hurt a child with autism. 

A service dog for physical disabilities receives a different training, let’s see what that’s like. 

9. Mobility Is the Most Common Disability, Affecting One in Seven US Adults

(Source: CDC)

  • As we age, we have a much higher chance of being physically disabled. Those 65 and older have a two-in-five chance.
  • 39.5 million US adults have a hard time with physical function, and that’s where service dogs come in. They’re specifically trained to help with everyday situations, like opening an automatic door or retrieving objects. Interestingly, some of the most sought-after breeds in the US make fantastic service dogs.
  • Service dog breed statistics show that labradors, poodles, and golden retrievers are among the best breeds for the physically disabled. But the most relaxed dogs are usually not used as service dogs. It’s a 24/7 job, so while a calm temperament is among the needed characteristics, it requires an energetic pup that can’t be easily distracted.

Those with a hearing impairment also benefit from service animals. Let’s check out some hearing service dog statistics.

pitbull service dog

10. There Are About 37 Million Deaf/Hard of Hearing Individuals in the US

(Source: Orange County Deaf Equal Access Foundation)

  • 4,000 new cases of sudden deafness occur in the US each year, of which only 10% know what caused it.
  • The good news? Service dogs are here to help. The pups can alert you to many sounds like alarms, your name, and even when the phone rings. 
  • Training a hearing dog can cost over $15,000. Still, you can find many available programs covering the cost.

It’s not just the hearing impaired that need assistance, let’s have a look at some guide dog statistics.

11. Around 2% of Blind Americans Use a Guide Dog

(Source: Guiding Eyes for the Blind)

  • While that may not seem like a lot, there are approximately 10,000 guide dog teams working with the blind and their pups across the US. 
  • It can cost as much as $50,000 per guide dog for training, breeding, and raising. The process is extensive but it’s because these dogs have a very serious job to do.
  • Volunteers raise the puppies for between 12–16 months, teaching them basic commands. After that, the pups head over for guide-specific training. 

According to veteran and service dog statistics, millions of men and women fighting for our country could benefit from a four-legged companion. 

Service Dogs for Veterans Statistics

12. Currently, 18.2 Million Veterans Live in the US

(Source: Purina)

  • Out of those, an astounding one in three struggles with a post-combat mental health issue. 
  • 20% of them suffer from PTSD.
  • Service dog statistics show that 19% of the appointed 500,000 puppies train to help people with PTSD symptoms.

Unfortunately, training service dogs for veterans takes a lot of time and money.

13. The Vet Expenses During Training Alone Cost Over $1,500

(Source: Purina)

  • If we add to that the food, workshops, training, veteran meals, grooming, crates, beds, and toy expenses, the cost goes up to approximately $30,000. 
  • Service dog placements statistics show that only 1% of veteran applications for service dogs receive approval. The cost is one of the main reasons why.
  • Other factors include time, awareness, stigmas around mental illness, and ongoing care expenses. 

We salute the men and women who have given up so much for our safety. If you can, donate some of your time or money to one of the organizations helping to provide service animals to veterans. 

14. Hundreds of Organizations Aid in Providing Service Animals

(Source: Assistance Dogs International)

  • Assistance Dogs International (ASI) is a collaboration of non-profit programs for training and placement. Service dog organizations statistics currently show there are 133 member programs.
  • In 2020, the organization placed 3,351 service dogs worldwide.
  • They have close to 40,000 volunteers helping the accredited organizations.

ASI can help you discover organizations that need your help. Unfortunately, statistics on fraudulent service dog reports are on the rise. Here’s what you need to know.

Fake Service Dogs Statistics

15. Over 65,000 Emotional Support Animals Were Registered Between 1995–2015

(Source: The Guardian)

  • Between 2015–2019, that number increased by 200%.
  • The difference between an emotional support animal and a fully-trained service dog comes down to $25,000. In contrast, it’s easy to buy a vest and certificate stating your dog is a “service animal”. You can do it online for about $80–$200.
  • But buying a certificate doesn’t mean the dog or any other animal has received training, so it has no legal rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Does that really matter? The truth is, it matters a lot. If your animal isn’t properly trained, it could end up as part of the service dog attack statistics.

service dog laying on the ground, looking in distance

16. 4.5 Million Dog Bites Occur Every Year in the US

(Source: Canine Journal)

  • 80% of the bites don’t require any medical care. 
  • Service dog training statistics show that the years of instruction raise docile and calm animals that generally don’t respond to outside influences like other dogs and humans. 
  • Do you see the issue behind fake support animals? Without proper training, they have no instinct to hold back fighting, barking, or responding. Unfortunately, 42% of service dog owners have reported a full-blown attack on their support animal. 

It’s not just dog attacks on humans we have to worry about.

17. 89% Of Service Animal Owners Report an Interference

(Source: DJS Consultant Services)

  • 47% had to plan a different walking route to avoid other problematic animals. 
  • Additionally, 4% of guide dogs had to retire because of an attack. 
  • Pet dog attack and service dog statistics show the ADA covers service animals 100%. They won’t protect emotional support animals legally, so if you have one and it attacks a service pup, you’ll be liable. 

It’s crucial to remember that you shouldn’t casually touch a dog. Always ask the owner first to avoid unpleasant incidents. Plus, if you have a big doggo then check out these harnesses for large breeds.

Wrap Up

Service dog stats and information on disabilities tell us that the issue affects 61 million adults in the US. There are currently only 500,000 working service dogs.

In 2019, over 200,000 emotional support animals were registered, despite the massive difference between them and trained service animals. The former don’t receive extensive training, which for a service animal costs between $15,000–$30,000

Only 1% of veterans that need a support animal have one. You can help them by donating your time or money.

Service dog statistics help us understand better what these precious animals do and what it takes to train one. 


How many service dogs are there in 2022?

Between 16,000–500,000, getting an exact number is difficult because there are a whole bunch of different definitions on what constitutes a service dog. 

How many people use emotional support animals?

In 2019, there were nearly 200,000 emotional support animals in the US. We can’t be sure of the real number since most emotional support animals are not registered or properly trained. 

How do you know if a service dog is real?

Since emotional support animals aren’t considered service animals, things can get a bit complicated when they obtain the same vests. Legally you cannot ask about another person’s disability, but one way you can be if you’re around a service animal is if they are guiding their owner. 

What is the difference between Professionally- and Self-Trained Service Dogs?

Based on service dog statistics, the biggest difference is the cost. Training a service animal with a professional can cost as much as $30,000. Either way, you must always ask permission before touching any animal. From the outside, they may look well-behaved but service dogs can be protective from their training.


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