Service Dogs: Physical Disabilities

Helping Paws places service dogs with individuals who have physical disabilities—other than the loss of sight or hearing—and veterans and first responders with PTSD.

Thank you for your interest in applying for a service dog. Please understand that we still maintain a lengthy waitlist and will be working to decrease our waiting time for a service dog. Due to the current waitlist status of our applicants we are currently only accepting applications from potential clients ages 10-70. Thank you for your understanding.

Letter of Interest Physical Disability

For a list of other assistance dog programs, please visit Assistance Dogs International at






We are unable to place service dogs for the following needs: 

  • Assist with the management of mental illness as a primary condition
  • Recognize and/or manage undesirable human behavior
  • Anticipate or detect medical symptoms
  • Provide supervision, navigation, or safety from environmental hazards
  • Provide personal protection
  • Respond aggressively

Are you eligible to receive a Helping Paws Assistance Dog?

  • Minimum of 10 years old with a physical disability other than loss of vision or loss of hearing.
  • 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 physically take full responsibility for a dog or have someone designated and able to address this responsibility.
  • A resident within Minnesota or the bordering areas of the surrounding states.
  • Able to attend the required 3 week 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 and the $100 application fee. Under no circumstances will this application fee be refunded.
  • Applicant has the five required reference forms completed and returned to Helping Paws.
  • The application file consisting of the application, 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.

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.