Dr. Bonita Bergin invented the concept of the Service Dog to assist people with mobility limitations in 1975. At that time she founded Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), the first nonprofit to train and place Service Dogs.
After leaving CCI In 1991, Dr. Bergin founded the Assistance Dog Institute, which was formally designated a university in early 2004. Today, Bergin University of Canine Studies is young and growing.
Dr. Bergin has been honored with numerous awards including Oprah Winfrey’s “Use Your Life Award”; Presidential Points of Light Award; “What Matters” HBO TV; Council on Disability Rights Individual Achievement Award; and Alumni of the Year Sonoma State University.
Dr. Bergin's biography provides more information about her many accomplishments.
Message from Dr. Bergin
The University was incorporated in 1991 as the Bonnie Bergin Assistance Dog Institute and has been known as Bergin University of Canine Studies since 2007. Since our founding as an educational and research-oriented organization focusing on dogs and their positive synergistic relationship with humans, the direction has become increasingly academic befitting the amazing abilities and dynamic capacity of the canine mind.
The dog, we now realize, thinks, feels and reacts in ways very much like humans, which explains its unique ability to fit into human society. And the plasticity, the versatility, the adaptability of the canine species is very much aligned with ours. So the time has come to elevate the dog to take its place beside humans, equines, bovines and other mammalian species as a specific subject of study at the college and university level.
No animal does more for us, none share a more intimate relationship with us, nor can any claim more years of alliance with us – than the dog -- our partner, our friend, our helpmate.
With a formalized, academic view of the dog and its human counterpart, we hope to enrich the understanding of the relationship that has inspired and fulfilled so many. We also hope to help people understand themselves better through insights and knowledge gained from theoretical and applied studies of dogs and dog-human interaction. With in-depth knowledge and insightful awareness, we also hope to help eradicate the horror of euthanasia of unwanted dogs while inspiring an expansion of the ways and means of canine/human partnerships.
Thus it is to this relationship we dedicate our University and its future and invite you to help us achieve this goal through your donations, your attendance, and your belief in the need for this endeavor.
In dogs we trust,
Bonita M. Bergin, Ed. D.