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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Pawsitive Perspectives Assistance Dogs (PawPADs)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Training, Animals, Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Health, Human Services, Rehabilitative Care

Mission: To enrich the lives of people with disabilities by providing them with exceptionally skilled assistance dogs; To utilize the power of the human-canine bond as a therapeutic, educational, healing tool.

Results: Our prison programs are highly praised by corrections staff and inmates for bringing a sense of hope, responsibility, and work-ethic to their lives; allowing them to give rather than take. We've placed our diabetic alert dogs with families and veterans and service dogs with veterans homes and persons with disbalities.

Target demographics: All persons with physical mobility disabilites, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, Veterans experiencing PTSD, at risk youth, federal prison inmates.

Geographic areas served: MN, WI, IO

Programs: Prison Road Puppies (Service dogs servin' time - inmates training service dogs) Project YES! (At-risk youth training service dogs while learning responsibility and leadership) SIT Program (In-training service dogs interact with developmentally disabled children and adults). Paw Corps (The dogs that come when called for the veterans who went when asked - veterans struggling with PTSD and reintegration issues train service dogs for veterans with physical disabilities).

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Client Served

Rating: 5

My husband is a wounded warrior...he lost a leg in Afghanistan and struggled with a lot before we got in touch with PawPADs a couple years ago. We were eventually partnered with Barkley just over six months later. Barkley is a dog who was rescued from a shelter and trained in a prison by PawPADs. Barkley changed our lives. There is not a piece of medical equipment on the planet that can do what this dog does for my husband. Barkley has given him a best friend and companion to share not only his struggles and hard times but his successes too. PawPADs has given us something we hadn't had in a few years and that's encouragement. Barkley can turn on the lights and pick things up but the best thing he does is watch out for and take care of my husband. The support we have received from PawPADs is beyond anything we have ever known. This is a nonprofit that is not only changing lives but changing the world while helping wounded warriors like my husband. I would give them more stars if I could.

Comments ( 1 )

Randy Your confidence in PawPADs encourages and inspires us! The very real-life challenges faced by Calvin and yourself are humbling. We appreciate your feedback and encouragement...Thank you! You both are inspirational role models for wounded warriors and the families that support them. Dog bless!


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

PawPADs is so much bigger than the individual humans who run it! The dogs change lives through their training -- from the youth at-risk and inmate trainers who have learned valuable lifeskills such as emotional regulation, self-control, giving back to the community and communicating effectively to the individuals whose lives are made better through the partnering with a service dog or a diabetic alert dog! PawPADs is not a numbers-focused organization, it's not all about how many assistance dogs can get placed -- it's about what's best for each individual dog, what's best for the program participants and, in the end, is the person they are being matched with the best possible match! The future looks exciting as PawPADs facilitates the magic of the human-canine bond in innovative and special ways!

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

PawPADs is a labor of love! I know because, as the founder, it became my dream while working overseas in 2005. After attending the Assistance Dog Institute (now Bergin University of Canine Studies) for an AS degree in Assistance Dog Training I began the long journey of building an organization that I am extremely proud of!

I believe that the PROCESS of training these amazing dogs holds incredible therapeutic and educational value and it has been a joy to see those results time and time and time again whether it be with:

- the emotionally damaged Vietnam Veteran rolling around on the floor with a dog and joy in his heart
- the child unknowingly completing his physical therapy by walking and grooming a dog
- the adolescent on the verge of getting kicked out of school for the day due to repeated temper tantrums sitting calmly reading to a dog and, again unknowingly, releasing oxytocin (a calming hormone) through their system as they pet the dog
- the inmates who are became not only more humane, but more human, through the process of training their dogs, giving back to society and making a positive difference!

All of these populations are learning life lessons through the magic of working with our dogs -- they are learning emotional regulation, self-control, empathy, parenting skills and a myriad of other lessons.

And, after the worry and joy, the challenges and triumphs, the highs and the lows, to hear from the partners of the dogs we've placed sharing what an impact the dogs have made .... well, it continues to make my heart sing!

I'm EXTREMELY proud of PawPADs .... I take great pride in our ethics, our ethos and all of the hard work that EVERYONE involved with creating this organization has undertaken!

4 Stuart D.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of working with PawPADs for the last few years. During that time I have been impressed by the care they provide for their dogs, their willingness to adopt rescued dogs into their program, their involvement in the prison training program, the dedication they display to their mission and the positive impact they have had on their community. The assistance provided by PawPADs trained service dogs is truly life changing for those suffering from a variety of disabilities. If you are looking for a worthwhile organization to receive your donated time and/or money, PawPADs deserves your consideration.

Comments ( 1 )


Randy 04/05/2015

Your support and advise these past years is inspiring and a bit humbling. Thank you. You’ve made a huge difference here at PawPADs in many ways: caring for our dogs in a compassionate, generous way, providing advice and counsel from puppy care to caring for a geriatric dog, sharing your financial and moral support, and on and on...Thank you and "dog bless"

Beth A.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

PawPADs is a small organization, making a big, positive impact on the lives of many.

One of the differences that sets PawPADs apart from other service dog organizations are the programs we offer. One of my favorites is a Social Integration Therapy (SIT) program where we have been working with an elementary school for the past two years. I worked with special education students and with students who did some on-on-one reading with dogs. The dogs helped to motivate students to work on tasks that might otherwise feel daunting: such as the child that had many tantrums when it was time to work on range of motion tasks from his wheelchair, but would happily push a block off his tray in exchange for a dog kiss from Recon after he retrieved the block and brought it back to the tray and the student who was not confident reading aloud and who, by mid-year was reading loudly and with great expression to Hero, Ranger, Iko and others. The student’s faces would light up when they saw the dogs and actually, so did the faces of the staff members! There were times when teachers would stop by just to get their “puppy fix” and they commented that, “they really needed that,” and that it would help them get through the rest of the day. The dogs are positively impacting many lives before they are even placed with their partners.

I feel very lucky to be part of the PawPADs family, to be able to work with the dogs – and reap the benefits of the human-canine bond and to be a part of a wonderful organization that enriches the lives of many people.

Previous Stories


Rating: 5

PawPADs, not only enriches the lives of those with whom the dogs are placed. The benefits of the canine-human bond extend to everyone who participates in the programs offered, as well as to those of us who volunteer.

Volunteering at PawPADs has been very therapeutic to me; I enjoy working with the dogs, the directors and the other volunteers.

When I first started at PawPADs, my shifts were two days a week for about a couple of hours each. Working with Linda and Randy and seeing their devotion to the dogs and their mission to not only train and place service dogs but also to develop programs that enable others in the community to work with the dogs and reap the associated rewards, has inspired me to come to the training center more and more and it has become a place I want and need to be. I see and feel the passion and it is contagious.

When I initially inquired about volunteering, one of my first questions was whether or not there would be other volunteers on my shift because I had just come from a situation where I was volunteering alone and it was an uncomfortable experience. Linda responded that I would definitely not be alone and that some of the other volunteers even stuck around after their shift to visit and enjoy coffee. It’s true, some of the other volunteers and I have become friends, and we socialize after getting our work done and even when we’re not at the training center. I have come to think of PawPADs as a second family.

Going to the training center, training the dogs on my own and working with students in the school programs has been very rewarding. I cannot help but get excited when the dogs respond to a command and seeing a student light up when the dog works for them feels even better. I am extremely fortunate to be a part of this organization and the great things we do!

Comments ( 1 )


rpatrick 11/05/2012

Beth, your dedication and enthusiasm humbles us! Your commitment and dedication exemplifies the true American spirit of volunteerism. You’ve made a huge difference here at PawPADs in every conceivable way: training and caring for the dogs, creating a school program for the dogs to work with elementary school kids, and on and on...Thank you!