Mission – Values – History

The mission of Helping Paws is to further people’s independence and quality of life through the use of Assistance Dogs.

The core values of Helping Paws reflect our commitment to

  • Govern our actions with integrity and respect.
  • Embrace education, flexibility and adaptability in our programs.
  • Cultivate a spirit of teamwork to achieve our goals.
  • Approach our mission with a view of the whole life of our dogs, with follow-up from birth to end of service.
  • Recognize and celebrate the passion and power of volunteers, providing opportunities for life enrichment.
  • Uphold our organization and ourselves to the highest standards of excellence.
  • Diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organization. 

Helping Paws began in 1985 as a pilot project of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Human-Animal Relationships and Environment (CENSHARE), and became an independent nonprofit in 1988. Early experiences showed that for successful service dog training, we needed to start with puppies to begin shaping behaviors early in each dog’s life. The first dog to complete such training and be placed was Alpha, a Golden Retriever who went on to serve his partner for many years.

We moved to our current location in Hopkins in 2007, a space that offers a large indoor fully-accessible training center for classes and team training.

As we celebrate 35 years, we’re reminded that the core of Helping Paws remains its inspiring base of volunteers and community support that allows us to change lives each day.