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Thinking of applying for a PAWS Assistance Dog, but unsure of what to expect? Let us walk you through the process.


Paws with a Cause


“Just like my disability is a part of me, my dog is a part of me. I can’t imagine what life would be like without an Assistance Dog.”

Jeff, PAWS Hearing Dog Client


PAWS accepts application requests between April 1 and June 30. Once applicants have read the Application Process and Frequently Asked Questions, they complete an online form to request an application. By learning about an applicant’s goals with an Assistance Dog, disability and location, PAWS can determine if they meet the program’s initial guidelines. Qualifying applicants will be mailed an application to complete and non-qualifying applicants will be notified within 10 business days.


A qualifying applicant must submit a completed application, including the medical portion completed by their treating physician. When the finished application is returned to PAWS, it is reviewed by Client Services and the applicant’s references are contacted. An applicant will receive a letter by October 31 stating if they qualify to continue through PAWS’ application process.


After having an acknowledged application, applicants will receive their Pre-Needs Assessment paperwork to complete and return to PAWS by December 31.  This paperwork includes, but is not limited to researching pet care, veterinary and grooming costs locally and submitting information for a background check. Applicants will be notified by January 31 whether they have qualified to continue to the Needs Assessment interview portion of the application process. 


A PAWS Field Representative will visit the individual’s home to complete a needs assessment. This is an in-home interview to determine the needs of an applicant and whether a PAWS Assistance Dog can meet those needs. A video is also taken for PAWS Client Services and trainers to review. Applicants will receive a letter letting them know if they’ve been accepted as a PAWS client by June 30. At this point, applicants are considered clients and will be placed on our waiting list to be matched with a dog. 

To learn more about what to expect as a PAWS client, click here.