One of the most valued qualities of the NSSD Facility Dog is the unconditional love and attention it gives to the clients and patients with whom it interacts.

A Facility Dog is a highly trained dog and is utilized in the work setting under the direction of the Facilitator (Handler) who has been trained in specific techniques that enable the dog to serve as a tool to enhance the accomplishment of client-related goals.

Facilitator (Handler):

  • Knowledge of acceptable training techniques
  • An understanding of canine care and health
  • The ability to maintain training, problem solve and continue to train and add new skills as needed
  • An understanding of how to use the dog in canine-assisted interventions
  • Knowledge of local access laws and appropriate public behavior
  • Available to train with an NSSD trainer weekly until certification (approx. 2-3 months)

Facility Dog:

  • Ability to take direction from its handler
  • Be calm and well-mannered in all situations
  • Have the ability to interact with a variety of people, situations and environments
  • Trained to ADI standards

The Facility Dog will live in the home of the Facilitator after certification and go to work with that person. Next Step Service Dogs will train and provide education for the Facilitator for the working life of the dog.

If you feel you are qualified and able to use a dog effectively to accomplish work-related goals and have the permission from the facility that you serve, please send an email of inquiry to our Program Director, Gina Esoldi at

Dana & Knox
Knox has made a great impact on those First Responders with whom he interacts. I have witnessed people who would not speak to me candidly before bringing Knox into the conversation. At that point, as they stroke his fur almost unconsciously, it all changed, and they would start to open up about various aspects of their life they have struggled with before.
Betsy and Genoa
As a Facility dog and a member of the San Diego Crisis Response Canine team, Genoa provides a unique opportunity for us as a team to break down barriers of fear and the stigma to accept help or intervention in the event of a crisis. As a community liaison between the fire department and community, Genoa proves that first responders come in all shapes and sizes.

View the 2020 SDFD Crisis Response Canine Appointment Ceremony here:

Comfort in Crisis
5K Funds for 3 Service Dogs