Service Dogs: Veterans and First Responders with PTSD

Helping Paws service dogs assist veterans and first responders with PTSD in regaining their independence and hope. These service dogs are trained to do specific tasks that allow their partners to feel more comfortable in public, reducing isolation, depression and anxiety. We have also seen a reduction in need for medication and improvement in sleep for many of our recipients of PTSD service dogs.






Are you eligible to receive a Helping Paws Assistance Dog?

  • A veteran with, honorably discharged and a diagnosis of PTSD related to their military service.
  • A first responder with PTSD related to work experiences, must have a work-related disability.
  • Financially able to take full responsibility for a dog, including but not limited to dog food and veterinary care, may cost upwards of $1,000 per year.
  • Able to meet the physical and emotional needs of a service dog. In addition you must have an appropriate support system in place to care for your service dog if you are unable to do so yourself.
  • A resident within Minnesota or the bordering areas of the surrounding states.
  • Willing to submit to a criminal background check, you are ineligible if you have been charged with domestic abuse within the last three years or are currently restricted from driving because of a DWI.
  • Able to attend the required Team Training course held at the Helping Paws Training Center in Hopkins, MN.
  • Willing to participate in follow-up training for the life of the service dog.
  • Able to provide a stable home environment (no major changes) during the first year following placement.

Application Process:

  • Helping Paws must receive a letter of interest for a Service Dog from the applicant before an application packet is sent.
  • Helping Paws sends an application packet that includes the Helping Paws Service Dog Application and Family, Friend, Professional, Medical and Mental Health reference forms.

  •  Applicant submits completed application form, a copy of their DD-214 (if a Veteran) and the $100 application fee.
  • Applicant has the five required reference forms completed and returned to Helping Paws.

  • The application file consisting of the application, DD-214 (if a Veteran), background check and five references is reviewed.

  • Qualified applicants are scheduled for a personal interview.

  • After final review by staff, the applicant is notified that Stage 1 of the application process is complete and if eligible applicant moves on to Stage 2 of the application process.

  • Applicants may be asked to attend a training session/s with a Helping Paws Service Dog-In-Training so we can further evaluate the applicant’s ability to work with a Service Dog. Upon completion of these evaluations at a satisfactory level, you have completed the application process and are eligible for a service dog from Helping Paws.

When declining an application for a Service Dog, the declination shall promptly be communicated to the applicant without explanation or reason, unless the Director of Programs in his/her discretion determines that some explanation is appropriate.

Letter of Interest Veteran Letter of Interest - First Responder 

After Application Acceptance:

  • The waiting period can vary from several months up to two years.

  • Applicant is invited to come to our training center to work with potential matches.

  • Applicant is notified of a match and the date of the Team Training course.
  • Team Training begins, the applicant and their Service Dog learn to work together as a team. Prior to beginning Team Training, payment of the $300 equipment fee is required.
  • Team Training is completed and the team graduates.
  • Graduate works with Helping Paws staff on follow up training. This training occurs in your home, work place, and public locations. Frequency of follow up training is based on individual need for each graduate.
  • The graduate team completes the ADI Public Access Test within the first year of placement.

This is a lengthy process and sometimes the waiting period for a dog can be as long as two years. This is due to the length of time necessary to raise and train a Helping Paws Service Dog. We feel it is very important to find just the right dog to be matched with you.

Previously Approved Applications May Be Removed From Our Waiting List If:

  • They have been on our waiting list for over 2 years and we are unable to provide the right match for them.
  • Helping Paws is not able to provide routine follow up in their geographic area.
  • Staff limitations cause us to reassess our ability to place a Service Dog with the applicant.

Please Note:

  • Applicants and graduates are not required to participate in fundraising or public relation activities in support of Helping Paws.
  • All information provided is privileged and will be considered confidential.
  • Helping Paws Inc. administers its employment, admissions and training programs in a nondiscriminatory manner and in accordance with applicable state and federal laws. Helping Paws Inc. does not discriminate on the basis of sex, age, race, color, national origin, citizenship status, creed, religious affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, victims of domestic violence or the presence of a medical condition or disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, or any other group protected by law.