TLCAD began as a small non-profit, all volunteer organization in 1998 with a goal to train Service Dogs for those seeking a fuller, more independent life. At the time, the demand was for dogs who could assist with mobility, seizures, cerebral palsy, Tourette's and hearing issues. Responding to the needs of our changing world, TLCAD now endeavors to focus their high standards of Service Dog training in two specific arenas. The first of these is the Leash-On-Life Program, developed to assist children and families who have been impacted by autism. The second is the At Ease Program, created to serve the needs of our country's Wounded Warriors.

Both programs are distinct and yet share similarities. Both are worlds of their own. Both benefit from the gift of a dog whose instincts and abilities have been schooled for service. TLCAD starts with the centuries old belief that a dog is mankind's true companion...and the benefits begin almost immediately.

TLCAD utilizes only evidence based positive reinforcement training methods. Our dogs are trained by professional training staff as well as inmate trainers in a manner that is fun and rewarding, making for happy, healthy and successful Service Dogs.

To satisfy an unfulfilled need for Assistance Dogs in San Diego County, California, the original founders, Steven Ross Fritsche, Heather Jo Fritsche & V. Lee Wells, established an organization that would not only help fill the demand for Assistance Dogs, but would also do so with a personal touch that is not easily met by large Assistance Dog organizations: customized training.

The original founders have since moved on to new things in life leaving behind a solid foundation that has enabled TLCAD to keep their mission strong, and very much alive.

The TLCAD of today provides specially trained Assistance Dogs for people with disabilities. The organization emphasizes the well being of their dogs as well as the needs of their clients. The training process for each dog that TLCAD places with a client follows the same guideline: each trainer takes in one dog at a time and trains that dog from start to finish (a time period of approximately 24 months), and beyond placement, for the life of the dog.

TLCAD helps people the best way they know how – one at a time.

Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Inc. is unique in the following ways:

  • TLCAD uses only positive reinforcement training methods.
  • TLCAD partners with local rescues and shelters and adopts carefully assessed rescue and shelter dogs and trains them to become Service Dogs through our Rescue Acquisition Program.
  • TLCAD partners with local prisons and trains inmates to raise and train our Service Dogs in our Prisoners Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Hope (POOCH) program.
  • TLCAD carefully matches our Service Dogs with clients based on a thorough screening process, which takes into consideration the strengths of a Service Dog with the specific needs of the individual with or autism or Wounded Warrior and their families. Because our placements are so individualized, TLCAD does not have a waiting list, rather an applicant pool (the next Service Dog ready does not necessarily go to the next person in our applicant pool).
  • TLCAD's individualized placement process typically takes about 4-6 months and takes place in a variety of setting including a clients' home, work place, and community. Our trainers work with clients in all settings to teach them how to best utilize their Service Dog.
  • TLCAD follows up with clients once a month for 6 months after certification and follow up annually with clients for the working life of their TLCAD Service Dog, ensuring that their Service Dog continues to assist them to their fullest potential.