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The Beginnings of PAVE

Dr. Michelle Nelson founded Paws Assisting Veterans (PAVE) in 2010. Her son served in the Navy and through that very personal connection the need for service dogs for Veterans was emphasized. Dr. Nelson had worked training with different typesof service dogs for quite some time and had seen first hand the amazing assistance they can provide. The goal of this organization became to reduce Veteran suicide and pave the way home for so many Veterans suffering from PTSD and other challenges due to their service.

After extensive research and education specifically in the field of assistance dogs for PTSD, and nonprofits, service dog training seminar at Bergin University, PAVE’s bylaws were adopted by the board of directors on November 14, 2011. PAVE filed the articles of incorporation with the State of Oregon on November 3, 2011. PAVE was granted 501(c)(3) status by the IRS January 19, 2012.

In 2017 PAVE was accredited by Assistance Dogs International, the leading authority in the assistance dog industry setting the standards for best practice guidelines across the globe. PAVE is one of only three service dog organizations in Oregon to be accredited by Assistance Dogs International.

Our Mission

Paws Assisting Veterans is dedicated to improving the lives of Veterans suffering from mental and/or physical disabilities through trained service dogs, empowering them and their families to achieve lifelong successes and to pave their way home.

Paws Assisting Veterans (PAVE) trains and places service dogs for Veterans in Oregon, Washington, California, and Idaho. PAVE specializes in placing dogs for disabled Veterans suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), anxiety, nightmares, and physical disabilities. It costs over $40,000 to breed, raise, and train each service dog. The generous support of individuals, foundations, businesses, and community organizations allows us to provide service dogs for Veterans free of charge.

Once a Veteran has been accepted into PAVE’s service dog program they will be matched with an assistance dog that best fits their unique needs. Training camps are held one-on-one at our training facility, usually for a two-week period. During which time the Veteran will learn how to care for their new service dog, how to utilize its cues and tasks, and how to maintain the training. Over the two weeks our service dog trainers will help the Veteran access public spaces with their service dog and practice real-life scenarios at their own pace. Upon final testing and graduation each Veteran will be bonded to their service dog and equipped with the skills to integrate their service dog into their daily life at home, work, and school.