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Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Health, Health Care, Human Services

Mission: Our mission is to train and place service dogs to help give hope and enrich the lives of those with PTSD, autism, and physical and neurological disabilities. We also provide facility dogs for special needs classrooms, children's hospitals, long term care facilities, counselors and other organizations that serve people with disabilities. We also educate the community on the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act, on what service dogs can do, how to handle meeting a service dog in public, and how to properly care for one's own pets.

Results: Since PAALS has been in existence, we have raised, trained, and placed dozens of full fledged service dogs. We've also placed dozens of 'Pets with a Purpose' with families that include a person with a disability, and have also placed multiple companion dogs with veterans.

Target demographics: people with PTSD, autism, and physical disabilities

Geographic areas served: South Carolina

Programs: assistance dogs as well as educational intervention within the schools and community

Community Stories

72 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am friends with someone who volunteers at PAALS and weekend fostered. One of the great things about PAALS is how much they appreciate their volunteers and fosters. PAALS does everything it can to support them. They hold regular training sessions with the fosters and make sure they are equipped to follow all the PAALS rules. It’s so important for the dogs to have those weekend breaks to revamp and relax. My friend devoted her entire weekend to the dog, and I’ve seen how hard it was for her when it was time to rotate to another dog. Yet, she continues to give and help the program. She says the end result is worth every bit of it. Hats off to all the fosters. It’s wonderful to see an organization working hand-in-hand with their volunteers. Together, they make it all happen.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a supporter of PAALS ever since I visited the Columbia area and found out about the organization and their mission. I don’t live in South Carolina, but I continue to follow them and donate to this awesome cause. With growing numbers of PTSD patients, it’s so important to keep programs like this going. Of course, PAALS dogs serve many other needs, but I’m particularly grateful to see them helping our veterans. I’m glad to see that they have navigated through Covid and are still up and running. They will continue to have my support and appreciation.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

So many people with emotional or physical needs have been helped by these well trained companions ! What a wonderful remarkable service these canines do !

Robin Shealy J.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Just seeing the help that the dogs that are trained by the PAALs staff that go on to help people in need is truly inspiring and much needed! I have got to see some of these dogs in training and they are truly a gift to so many❤️

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

PAALS is an exceptional nonprofit that touches the lives of thousands of people. They care deeply about all of the people they serve, their wonderful dogs, and their dedicated volunteers. They can always be counted on to go above and beyond to change lives.

Tom B.10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

PAALS is an amazing organization. From the spay/neuter clinics to the service dog training!

Donor

Rating: 5

I have attended many PAALS events over the last few years : non-Gala galas, puppy cupcake parties, and more. The PAALS mission is evident at the heart of every event. What a well run organization with a dedicated group of volunteers!

Mary Ploski S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

PAALS provides support and encouragement to clients and dogs. Without their encouragement, I’m sure that I never would have achieved the level of independence that Dapper, my mobility dog, affords me.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

PAALS cares. Long after being matched with a mobility service dog, I continue to receive support, guidance and encouragement from PAALS.

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My best friend is in training right now for her service dog. The process has been smooth and PAALS has communicated well along the way. Several appointments to ensure needs are matched with dog placement. They truly have hearts in what they do. They give pieces of their hearts to each dog and client.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great charity to assist disabled people (both PTSD and/or mobility issues).

Donor

Rating: 5

Amazing work done by dedicated loving people and dogs. Exclusively through the charitable donations they receive these trainers, staff and volunteers are able to perform mini-miracles and provide life-changing life partners to those with challenges and disabilities. The heart-warming (and sometimes heart-breaking) stories these people tell of the impact the dogs have on their lives make all the effort worthwhile.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started out as a donor, like so many others, but I quickly realized that I had to become more involved. Yes, the puppies are cute, but their impact on the lives of people with monumental struggles that the vast majority of people are blessed to never experience, that was so overwhelming that I had to volunteer. First, just cleaning out kennels and picking up .... well, you know, and then as I got training, acting as a pup-sitter for weekends. Now I am a full-time foster helping as best I can to reinforce their training while providing exposures and experiences for the pup in real life situations and in-home settings. Nothing can prepare you for attending that year end "Graduation" celebration. That is where the new team members tell in their own words how their PAALS dog has impacted their lives. I'm a big tough 26-year military veteran, but I was crying like a baby listening to the stories. It was at once the most heart-breaking and uplifting experience I can ever remember having. And it's all through the dedication of the PAALS staff, volunteers and donors. That's why I will continue to give as much of my time, effort and money as I can to continue their mission because I can see first hand how much good they do.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a fantastic non-profit benefiting many families with disabilities. All members of this organization are extremely professional, including the canines!

Donor

Rating: 5

PAALS continues to impress me with their ability to keep the program going through this last year. When I was home on break this summer, I had the opportunity to go on an outing with the dogs since my parents are volunteers. I watched first-hand how the dogs are trained and exposed to different environments. (And I got to sit in the back of the SUV with them and get some loving.) They are so precious. Even in strange places full of distractions, they learn to focus on their handler. It's such a long journey to becoming a fully-trained service dog, but the end result is worth it. Now more than ever, there are so many veterans who would benefit from a service dog, and of course, mobility dogs are always needed as well. I always donate and support PAALS. It's such a worthy cause and a life-changing mission.

Previous Stories
1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've worked with a lot of patients who have anxiety issues, strokes, and disabilities. My parents foster these dogs and I read through the entire manual and saw first-hand how much training and dedication it takes from the staff and the fosters. I loved being home over my break and learning about the training, and yes, getting puppy hugs. I can't say enough about how impressed I am with this program. There are so many people in need of these service dogs and so few available. It is truly a mission that needs to be funded and grow. And it's not just for veterans. They find a place for every dog in the program to somehow help and serve. This is an organization that deserves and needs all the help it can get.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a PAALS donor for the last several years. I have a friend who volunteers there and her stories about the dedication of those dogs and all they go through touch my heart. I never knew how many cues they had to learn or all the training it takes for them to become a service dog. I'm so impressed with PAALS and how these amazing dogs go on to change a person's life. I've watched the virtual graduation and you can see the absolute devotion of the dog to the client. And the clients clearly are so grateful and blessed to have the dog. The other thing that is important is the way PAALS finds a place for a dog that doesn't make it to the level of service dog. The facility dogs play important roles too. I will continue to be a PAALS supporter and help as much as I can in the future. Great job PAALS!

Diane H.7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I have been volunteering and fostering for PAALS for three years now. Our hearts have split wide open, seeing the way this mission changes peoples' lives. These precious pups are so devoted and so eager to help. The first time I saw a PAALS graduation, I cried so hard, listening to the heartfelt stories from the clients who now had a PAALS dog. People who couldn't leave their house were able to get back out in the world with the help of their PAALS service dog. Facility dogs also are an important part of the mission. PAALS dogs go on to help in pediatric physical therapy units or schools with the special needs children. We feel blessed to have found this organization, and I can't say enough about how important it is to support them. PAALS dogs selflessly enable people to live again.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

PAALS is an amazing organization. Our Woman's Club was able to partner on a service project and in the naming of a dog this year. We learned so much about the organization and the amazing things they do in our community. Everyone at PAALS is just outstanding. They put every penny to very good use.

1 Nelly N.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Paals is a wonderful nonprofit organization! Paals Director, staff, volunteers, pup sitters and fosters are extremely hard working amazing human beings! This organization represents what kindness, devotion and professionalism is all about! Watching first hand all they do to train their beloved dogs is truly incredible! All of this done with their hearts and souls in hand to help someone in need! This is a Godsend organization for our state and beyond!

Leanne Spooner H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our family fostered Aubrey, one of the first PAALS pups many years ago. My son, with cerebral palsy, received a companion dog 10+ years ago. My son is non verbal and Jen Rogers put extreme effort into teaching Copper to respond to commands from Jeff's computer. Copper helped Jeff physically and emotionally gain independence. Copper has since passed away, but we're still involved with PAALS. It's an amazing group - volunteers, trainers, everyone I've ever been involved with thru PAALS is special.

1 Danny L H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thanks to PAALS my life has been changed forever. I received my service dog almost 2 years ago. The places he has taken me since has brought such love with my service dog Winston and the PAALS organization. The care, love and understanding they have with the clients is amazing to say the least. Keep up the great work PAALS! You are forever changing lives.

Previous Stories
3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a veteran that suffers from PTSD and Parkinson's Disease. After I retired from military service I found myself staying inside the house and only going out to the store at about 3:00 in the morning. On the few times I ventured out to visit a restaurant I found myself sitting with my back away from everyone so I could see everything going on. After many years of counseling at the VA clinic they recommended I put in for a service dog through PAALS. After putting in my application and being accepted in the program it was about two years before being accepted to attend training. During the two years I had many speed dating sessions with the dogs to makes sure we were both compatible with my needs. The first day of training we found out who we were being placed with. I was overjoyed when I saw who came out the door for me. Fast-forward almost one year. He has saved my life. We go everywhere together. I go out anywhere I want to go now. He wakes me up from nightmares and can sense when something is wrong with me. I will forever donate, fundraise or anything PAALS needs me to do!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Like many other volunteers commenting here, I have also been a volunteer for PAALS for years. You wouldn’t have so many volunteers involved, for the amount of years many have been, if it wasn’t such a wonderful organization. The mission is a powerful one - serving clients and community programs, one that can be clearly seen in action. But what isn’t always seen is the small but MIGHTY team that makes it all possible. I’m proud that this organization includes me as part of their team.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved in a small way with PAALS as a volunteer for a few years, and I am continually amazed at the ways these dogs help their clients and how much of a difference they make in their lives. This is one of those organizations where you wish you could help so much more. If you're looking for a place to volunteer and donate, this is it!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was matched with a Mobility Service Dog in November of 2018. I am an incomplete quadriplegic from Cervical Spinal Cord Injury. I use a manual wheelchair and I have trouble with my arms and hands as well as my legs. My dog immediately became my best friend and partner. She picks things up when I drop them. She uses a rope tug that I carry to open doors. She pushes buttons on elevators that I can't reach. She helps me put things in and take things out of my washer and dryer. And when I'm anxious or my PTSD from my accident kicks in, she lays her head on my lap or feet to help me remember that I'm okay! She also lies on my legs in bed at night which helps calm the spasms that I have regularly.
I feel so blessed to have found PAALS! They have truly made a huge difference in my life!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with this organization after a referral from a friend. I love working with the dogs and the people of this organization. This group is dedicated to developing fabulous dogs into helpers for people with physical and mental disabilities. More important, they use training techniques that make the dogs want to work. The dogs almost smile when they correctly follow a cue. Covid forced me to stop my volunteer work, but I can't wait until my return. Every hour I've spent with this organization has improved my life perspective. Their work helps make challenging lives easier.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at PAALS throughout college with the organization Cocky's Canine PAALS. This nonprofit helped me throughout school to find purpose and to learn what this organization is about. They deeply care for each and every dog. The care and dedication for the dogs is unmatched. Every worker and volunteer truly loves being there. It is an organization that gives so much. It was so amazing to watch and see what these dogs are capable of. I am so thankful I was able to learn about and volunteer at PAALS.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The staff is incredibly engaging and they have built a fantastic community. Everyone works hard to ensure PAALS is the best that it can be.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

PAALS is an outstanding organization. They maintain the highest level of accountability from finances to volunteer relations. As a volunteer, I have witnessed their work firsthand and can attest that they fulfill their mission statement with excellence. I have been on paid staff and volunteer staff with nonprofits for over 30 years. PAALS exceeds all others in fulfilling their standards of excellence. Their work truly changes lives.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We enjoy pup sitting for PAALS. It is very rewarding to catch a small glimpse into the amazing work these dogs do to serve others. The staff is supportive and compassionate too!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I fostered this precious PAALS pup for six months and watched her grow and so eagerly learn all the cues trying to please us and her trainer. She is going to be an amazing service dog. The program at PAALS is outstanding, and we are always in awe of how much love and attention the dogs get and give back. We were brought to tears at the graduation hearing the heart-wrenching stories of how much these dogs help their clients. They are life changers, and it has been our blessing to be a part of this team.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

PAALS is an incredible provider to greatly needed, we trained assistive dogs. Having worked with PAALS for several years, I have found them compassionate, responsive, and accommodating to as many qualified individuals as possible. Thank God for PAALS.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve seen how amazing and well trained the dogs are from watching my friend who fosters one of the dogs. This organization is important to the welfare of the community in need of service animals.

1 Jan M.4

Donor

Rating: 5

I have known the founder of PAALS when she worked with the education department at Riverbanks Zoo. So when PAALS started up I was a volunteer. I am handicap and I would let the dogs get used to canes walkers and wheelchairs. I also was able to name a couple of dogs. I named one in memory of my sister. My sister helped disabled children when she was alive. Well she got to continue after she passed as her 4 legged namesake helped an autistic child. The family was elated to see her be able to continue to help. ❤️

2 CatherineMann

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What an amazing, top-notch organization - professional, personable, compassionate! While fostering for PAALS, it's been my joy to see PAALS bring the community together around these life-changing pups.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I really was unsure PAALS could survive as an organization during the Pandemic. They not only survived, but they also thrived. PAALS was able to reduce staffing to the minimum to save costs, but they continued training all the young pups in their care on a routine basis. Volunteer Fosters took on a number of middle age pups and continued their training at their homes. When trainers could not gather together anymore, a trainer held virtual training meetings with all the full-time fosters to address any issues or concerns. Additionally, PAALS staff were able to hold two team training events to place five trained dogs with their new partners. All was done to standard and in accordance with all CDC health guidelines. I am so proud to be a member of this outstanding, caring organization!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I just started volunteering here at the beginning of the year and the people here are very friendly and care very much about the animals in their care. The facility is one of the cleanest I have been in. I really like volunteering here. As a volunteer, I do a lot of cleaning in the beginning and then once all that is done they allow me to interact with the dogs. They teach you how to handle and how to respond to the dogs and I love that. They are knowledgable about their dogs. Yesterday I volunteered and after cleaning and doing the stuff that needed to be done they taught me and some others how to properly walk their dogs and it's not just for their dogs its for walking ANY dog. I really appreciated and learned from that experience. I enjoy volunteering here and helping out the dogs and employees.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hands down the best service dog training facility in our state. They prove over and over that miracles do happen. Created at PAALS.

4 Regina O.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My husband is a disabled Veteran. We have been working with PAALS for over a year now and have been accepted as a recipient for a service dog! This is an amazing organization! The people are kind and considerate of all the persons special needs. They are experts in this field and it shows. We are trying to have a fundraiser to help other Veterans and PAALS. Please donate to help them continue their amazing work!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a camper here for several years and went on to volunteer and become a weekend foster. I have never met a group of kind and patient people in my life. Their never ending love for each and every client is absolutely amazing. I have loved working with them

4 Jeanne H.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After moving from Columbia, I realized how special and unique this program is. PAALS does it right and is such a fun, friendly environment with knowledgeable and caring staff. I learned so much as a Pup Sitter and enjoyed my training thoroughly. The dogs are respected with training and I am so impressed with what this organization has accomplished. Keep up the amazing work!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I needed to give back to my community after I retired. I heard Jen speak about her organization at a senior luncheon at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church. Being a dog lover, I was very interested in her talk. I spoke with her afterwards and decided that was what I wanted to do. I started when PAALS was in her home. She and the other trainers taught me so much more than I knew about dogs. When my health prevented me from volunteering any longer, I became a foster again and ended up keeping my last foster, Essie. If anyone is interested in volunteering, this is a wonderful organization. The trainers are very patient and what you learn sticks with long after you can't volunteer anymore.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for PAALS since the beginning. Do to my own health issues, I am not able to interact with the dogs as a foster, walker, etc. I use my skills and abilities to help in other ways behind the scenes. I have seen some amazing things of how these dogs have helped so many people in so many ways. I feel privileged to know and work with this organization. There are many ways to be involved with this organization. Please find one and volunteer.


4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I are weekend fosters for PAALS. We are honored to play a small role in the mission of the organization and humbled to know that these pups go on to help others live their best lives. If you want to know what "right" looks like, spend some time with PAALS.

4 Tina R.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

PAALS is more than just a nonprofit, it ultimately becomes your home away from home. Such a loving community with an immense passion for their work. Their dedication to their community is unmatched. This one of a kind nonprofit is a trailblazer in the community. One of the best I have dedicated my time to.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A fantastic organization that trains service dogs to assist people with physical or social needs. They are such a caring group of people to work with! There are a number of ways you can help at the facility or with the animals and get the whole family involved.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

While my family lived in Lexington, SC we searched for a quality non-profit for our family volunteer efforts. We wanted to make a difference, not knowing that Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS) would change our lives. We started as weekend fosters and volunteered at various functions like reading at the Library with children. After fostering a Golden Retriever Labrador mix for almost a year he moved on and eventually became a companion for a veteran. For that time he was part of our family as he shopped for weekly groceries, went to the movies, and attended our sons sporting events. We did not know what this meant until we attended graduation for the canine scholars. This organization that trains service dogs actually changes lives. These service dogs open a new avenue to the lives of its clients that may not have been available without PAALS. We are so thankful we had the opportunity to work with this exceptional non-profit and its staff.

2 Quinten E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A fantastic organization with a powerful mission! Everyone believes in the mission.

4 Rose W.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

PAALS was just the right fit for me when I retired from the military. I was looking for a way to help veterans while also involving my love of animals. I can't believe what a difference a volunteer makes in helping these dogs become 'life changers'! With each dog that I help to learn their skills, I become a part of their history of service to others in need.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My name is Natalee and I am from Beaufort, South Carolina. I interned with PAALS for 16 weeks. They're an amazing organization. The volunteers that come together from the community of Columbia are spectacular. The college students are not only investing in their futures, but they are investing of the futures of highly trained service dogs that will make an outstanding impact in the lives of men, women, and children in need. I have been forever changed by this group and I am using the things I learned there to bring fulfillment and enrichment to my community. This group is part of my family.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A wonderful organization run by people that really care about changing people’s lives.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

PAALS is an incredibly well run organization from top to bottom. They take amazing care of their dogs, employees, volunteers, and especially the people who partner with a PAALS service dog. Even their outreach to the community is outstanding. They set the bar for other non-profits.
Randy Basinger DVM, ACVS

3 Louise Burpee B.

Advisor

Rating: 5

We help advise PAALS about veterinary care for their dogs. They are extremely diligent in the care their dogs receive. When my mother’s 13 year old Seeing Eye dog died and she could not qualify for a new dog because of dementia, (90 years old), I beseeched PAALS to see if they had a companion dog that couldn’t work as a service dog. My mother had not been without a dog in 50 years. Ms. Pat fit the bill! She has revived my mother as a companion to love and touch. We will be forever grateful to this wonderful nonprofit!

4 Susan Simoneau W.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization. Everyday they are changing lives! I will forever be grateful for the wonderful opportunities they have given me!

3 Debbie K.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Amazing organization! We are forever grateful for Skully!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 4

So enjoy volunteering with this organization! Wish there were more hours in the day to allow me to see the animals and the two legged creatures work their miracles, hand in PAW!

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

In 2014 my daughter ran for her High School Homecoming Princess. I so very much wanted to go see her walk out on the football field with her escort and enjoy the moment with her regardless of the outcome. However after serving 10 years in the military I've developed major anxiety that can sometimes be debilitating. I had to have my best friend go with me and basically hold my hand and escort me through the crowds. Also, I made sure to take medication to try and ward off a panic attack and keep my anxiety in check. This is just one example of the daily battles that I go through just trying to live the best life possible and be the best mother and wife I can be for my children in my husband.

I don't have a service dog yet but I'm desperately trying to find the resources to try and make it happen. Charities such as this one provide great resources and a plethora of information to aid those like me. I am a service disabled veteran but unfortunately Veterans Affairs only appears to offer the resource of service dogs to individuals with PTSD or a traumatic brain injury. I thank God that I don't have either one of those issues but I sure would like to be able to do something as simple as get on a plane and not be medicated or to be able to enjoy precious moments with my children without fear of a panic attack Thank you PAALS for all you do. If you are a person looking to donate to a good cause this is definitely one of them.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

they are a great dog training facility thats trains dog for good

3 Diamond2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Excellent place that will help you locate what you need

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Such wonderful people working there, really great people working hard to help others. They do such great work, you'll fall in love with them and the dogs

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering with them for two years and it's one of the best decisions I've made. Everyone is so nice and welcoming and allow for a great, nurturing atmosphere for the pups! Their mission is amazing and so are the workers!!!

3 Becky112

Client Served

Rating: 5

PAALS provided me with my service dog, Fred. They go above and beyond with training and support. With Fred and PAALS I have so much of the independence back that I had lost. From the care and detail they put into working with each clients individual needs and matching them with their perfect dog, to the drive PAALS has for transforming lives they are just phenomenal!!!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dapper, my service dog, has enabled me to live independently. PAALS has supported me and Dapper as we have traveled this journey together. Each year they have provided recertification tests to ensure that we are operating at the highest levels. Without the stellar training that Dapper received, I would not be able to participate in many daily activities.

Elly J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

PAALS has helped my son who is on the spectrum through the work that he and his school do with with dogs as part of their projects. We could not be more thrilled knowing that this organization exists.

1 ____754

Donor

Rating: 5

PAALS is an absolute fantastic charity that I'm proud to donate to each year. Not only do they provide service dogs to those in needs, but they overcome adversity with smiles on their faces and are never discouraged. It's always nice to donate to a charity when you can see the end result and how it's helping the community. Some of the best folks around!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am just beginning my journey of applying for a service dog. My husband and I toured the facility last week. We met with the trainers and I think the director. Forgive me if I forget names that is part of my disability. Anyway we were very impressed with the PAALS program. There was so much caring and love for what they do for the dogs and people with disabilities. The facility was cheerful and clean we felt like we were walking into a friend or family home. I'm looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me.

Cecil B.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a Board member and the volunteer Treasurer with this organization since 2010. I continue to be amazed at how their wonderful dogs make a huge difference in quality of life of their partners.