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 combat experience, honorably discharged and a diagnosis of PTSD related to their military experience.
  • 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.

Ready to take the next step?

  • If you meet our eligibility requirements, we invite you to start the application process by completing a letter of interest.

Letter of Interest Veteran Letter of Interest - First Responder 

  • Helping Paws will determine if your situation and needs are a good fit for a Helping Paws service dog and if so, we will send you an application.
  • Complete the application form and submit it along with a $100 application fee. Under no circumstances will this application fee be refunded.
  • To complete your application we will need a copy of your DD-214 and five reference forms; family, friend, professional, medical and mental health.
  • Helping Paws will review your application and references and will schedule qualified applicants for a personal in-home interview.
  • Once your file is complete, Helping Paws staff will review your application; a letter will be sent to you either approving or declining the application. If approved, you will be placed on our waiting list and enter the next phase, which is Matching. See Matching and Team Training to learn more about this process.
  • When an application for a service dog is declined, the decision is promptly communicated to the applicant without explanation or reason, unless the Director of Programs, in his or her discretion, determines that some explanation is appropriate.

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.

Meet some of our recent veteran and first responder graduates. Click on their picture to hear their story.