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 Helping Paws service dog. Effective January 1, 2023 – June 30, 2023, we will not accept applications for a service dog for individuals with physical disabilities. Our waiting list is full at this time and we are working hard to keep up with requests and to decrease waiting time for a service dog. Thank you for your understanding.

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.

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.
  • 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.
  • Helping Paws will review the application and will schedule qualified applicants for a personal in-home interview.
  • Helping Paws requires four references: family, friend, professional, and medical.
  • Once the references are received and the file is complete, Helping Paws staff will review the application; a letter will be sent to the applicant either approving or declining the application. If approved, the applicant is placed on our waiting list and enters 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 graduates. Click on their picture to hear their story.