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Service Dogs For Veterans

We provide custom-trained service dogs for Veterans free of charge with lifetime support.

While military service only lasts for a limited time, the psychological and physical wounds experienced by Veterans can last forever. The healing process is a unique journey for every Veteran, and for some, every day is a challenge. From the roughly 2.7 million Americans that have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 is experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Conditions like PTSD, MST, and TBI present numerous symptoms that disrupt daily living and make it difficult to sleep, socialize, and maintain independence.

Service dogs provide immense support for Veterans to improve their quality of life. Our purpose at PAVE is to help more Veterans access the benefits of service dogs. By offering customized training and lifetime support, we make a tangible and significant difference in the lives of Veterans. If you’re a Veteran who is ready to regain your independence, contact us today to learn more.

Service Dog, Therapy Dog, & Emotional Support Animal (ESA), What are the differences?

Service Dogs Therapy Dogs Emotional Support Dogs
ls legally allowed to accompany the disabled handler into stores, restaurants. libraries. etc.
Must be allowed to live with owner even where there is "no pets" policy.
Can fly in the cabin of a plane/with the handler.
Must be able to tolerate novel environments, experience, and interactions.
Is specially trained to help handler only with tasks the handler needs due to a specific disability.
ls trained to provide comfort to many others at the handler's direction.
Primary function is to provide general emotional comfort to the handler only.
Must wear special identifying gear.

Is a PAVE Service Dog Right for Me?

Veterans with psychological and/or physical disabilities experience an array of complex and chronic symptoms like nightmares, difficulty socializing, depression, and anxiety. PAVE service dogs provide specialized tasks for Veterans to improve their quality of life. From making simple tasks more accessible to providing essential support for significant challenges, PAVE service dogs have been shown to:

  • Wake Veterans from nightmares 
  • Improve sleep quality and quantity
  • Increase independence 
  • Increase positive social interactions 
  • Lower symptoms of PTSD and MST
  • Reduce need for medications 
  • Enhance the Veteran's quality of life and positive outlook
  • Physical assistance with everyday tasks
  • Reduce hypervigilance
Our Dogs 4

Hear From Our Veterans

Alex was severely injured by an IED while serving in Afghanistan. Since returning home, his PAVE service dog, Troy, provides support for him and his wife Kim. It takes just one look at Troy and Alex to see the powerful bond created between the pair.

~ Alex and Troy

John suffered from debilitating nightmares for decades. They robbed him of his independence and will to live. Just as John thought nothing would alleviate the suffering, PAVE matched him with his service dog, Truman.

~ John and Truman

tiffany and sage

Tiffany’s life was torn apart by PTSD. In her darkest moments, she barely got three hours of sleep. PAVE facilitated 1:1 training and customized placement with service dog, Sage, to help Tiffany regain her life. Her message for all Veterans is, “Don’t quit! Don’t give up!”

~ Tiffany and Sage

Our Basic Criteria for a Service Dog

  • Became disabled while serving our country (does not have to be combat-related).
  • Have a clinical diagnosis of PTSD, MST, TBI, or need for certain physical help. We do not place full mobility service dogs.
  • Currently in treatment with a supportive provider.
  • Can attend our training camp in the Portland Metro, Oregon, and provide for your own transportation and accommodation during that time.
  • Live in California, Idaho, Oregon, or Washington.
  • Can meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of a dog.
  • Have been honorably discharged.

While PAVE trains service dogs for Veterans, PAVE can not train for every possible disability a Veteran might have, as the training itself and needed service dog characteristics could be very different. Please note that PAVE does not place service dogs for legally blind, hearing impaired, full mobility needs, or medical alert dogs (seizure, diabetic alert for example). PAVE does not train service dogs for individuals with multiple complex mental health issues. Please see ADI for organizations that specialize in these areas.

Our Dogs 5
Our Dogs 5

Frequently Asked Questions
About Service Dogs for Veterans

PAVE’s mission is to train and provide service dogs for our Veterans suffering from psychological and/or physical disabilities.

PAVE does not place service dogs for legally blind, hearing impaired, or medical alert dogs (seizure, diabetic alert, for example). Please see ADI for organizations that specialize in these areas.

Yes, PAVE is an accredited member of Assistance Dogs International. This premier international organization establishes and promotes standards of excellence in all areas of assistance dog acquisition, training, and partnership. Only three organizations in Oregon are currently accredited members.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, PAVE is funded by private donations, corporate donations, foundation funding, and grants.

It costs PAVE around $42,000 per dog, which includes lifelong follow-up training and support.

Approximately 90 cents of every dollar is spent on program expenses.

PAVE provides the service dog, the training, and ongoing support at no charge, along with the initial supply of equipment and supplies valued at over $1,500.

It takes approximately 1.5 – 2 years to train a service dog. 

PAVE works with Guide Dogs for the Blind, selected breeders, and rescues/shelters.

PAVE primarily trains Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, or Lab/Golden crosses.

These breeds have consistently been successful in service dog work regarding aptitude, temperament, and work ethic.

As soon as the dogs join our program!

PAVE dogs are trained by certified, professional dog trainers specializing in service dogs. They use positive reinforcement methods.

PAVE assistance dogs are trained to the specific disability needs of the individual Veteran. Examples of tasks they perform depend on the Veteran's specific needs but may include: 

  • Turn lights on/off
  • Open or close doors
  • Retrieve items
  • Nightmare interruption
  • Redirect Veterans during a PTSD episode
  • Provide DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) and grounding

No, PAVE does not train or certify dogs already owned by the Veteran. Assistance Dogs International lists some organizations that offer that kind of training.

The initial required qualifications are: 

  1. Honorable discharge.
  2. Licensed health professional ongoing support appropriate for the mental and/or physical disabilities.
  3. Housing and financial stability to provide for the well-being of the service dog.

Have another Question?

Email the PAVE team at [email protected], and we’ll answer all your questions about service dogs for Veterans.


At Paws Assisting Veterans (PAVE), we are wholeheartedly dedicated to providing Veterans with the support they need and deserve. As a nonprofit service dog organization we provide service dogs free of charge for Veterans with lifetime support. The trained tasks completed by service dogs through our comprehensive training program empower Veterans to live an independent, fulfilling life.

Interested in a PAVE Service Dog?

Are you ready to regain your independence? 

Our team is ready to support you through the PAVE process from application to training camp with your new companion and service dog. Dedicated to facilitating your new and better life, we provide tailored training and lifelong support with access to professional advice from our specialist dog trainers. There is no charge for your service dog, training, or ongoing support.

Start your journey with PAVE by completing the simple contact form.

Our Dogs 7
Our Dogs 7