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View the frequently asked questions at 4 Paws for Ability.

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General FAQs

Assistance Dogs FAQs

Service Dog Application FAQs

Donor FAQs

Volunteer FAQs

General FAQs

Q. What is 4 Paws for Ability’s mission?
4 Paws for Ability enriches the lives of children and veterans with disabilities by the training and placement of quality, task-trained service dogs to make a life-changing difference.

Q. Is 4 Paws for Ability a non-profit organization?
Yes, 4 Paws for Ability is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization since 1998

Q. How many service dogs has 4 Paws for Ability placed?
4 Paws for Ability has placed over 1,800 service dogs.

Q. Where does 4 Paws for Ability place service dogs?
4 Paws for Ability serves children and veterans with disabilities across North America.

Q. Is 4 Paws for Ability part of Assistance Dogs International?
In 2022, 4 Paws for Ability was accepted into the candidate program with Assistance Dogs International. “Assistance Dogs International, Inc. (ADI) is a worldwide coalition of not-for-profit programs that train and place Assistance Dogs. Founded in 1986 from a group of seven small programs, ADI has become the leading authority in the Assistance Dog industry.” ADI requires that agencies are candidates for a minimum of two years before applying for membership.

Assistance Dog FAQs

Q. What is an assistance dog?
Under Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilites Act, an assistance dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Q. Does 4 Paws for Ability train therapy dogs or emotional support animals?
No, 4 Paws for Ability does not train therapy dogs or emotional support animals. We only train assistance dogs.

Assistance dogs are task-trained to mitigate a disabilitiy for an individual and are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act to have public access.

In contrast, therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and support to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other similar settings. Therapy dogs do not have legal access to public places and are not protected under the ADA, therefore are not required to follow specific training requirements. They work with a handler who takes them to various places to visit people who may benefit from their presence.

Lastly, emotional support animals provide emotional comfort to people with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. These animals do not require specific training, but they are prescribed by a mental health professional to help alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions. They are allowed to live with their owners in housing that may otherwise prohibit pets, but they do not have legal access to public places

Q. What types of assistance dogs does 4 Paws for Ability train?
4 Paws for Ability trains many different types of tasks that can benefit the children and veterans with disabilities who we serve. Learn more about the types of assistance dogs we train.

Q. What breeds does 4 Paws for Ability use?
4 Paws for Ability uses purebreds or combinations of the following breeds: of golden retrievers, labradors, Newfoundlands, papillons, and poodles. 4 Paws for Ability is focused on temperament and health which align with the placement of a high-quality asssistance dog.

Q. Where does 4 Paws for Ability get the dogs they train?
4 Paws for Ability utilizes our own breeding program. These are dogs specifically bred for health and temperament. Careful breeding has increased the chances that 4 Paws service dogs have a higher likelihood of success in their career, and as good stewards, it is the most effective use of resources to place life-changing service dogs.

Service Dog Application FAQs

Q. Who is eligible to apply for a service dog?
4 Paws for Ability serves children and veterans. We welcome applications from individuals who are under 18 years old, or older than 18 years old and are not their own legal guardians, or local military veterans with a disability. Acceptance into our program requires that the necessary service dog training is within our scope of expertise, that the home is safe for the assistance dog, and the family is able to financially care for the dog.

Q. Our child is unable to handle a dog. Do you certify adult-child teams?
Yes. 4 Paws for Ability can place service dogs as a three-unit team for children who are unable to independently handle their service dog. In these situations, the parent handles the dog on behalf of the child.

Q. Our child has multiple disabilities. Can you help?
Yes. 4 Paws for Ability service dogs are uniquely and individually trained to mitigate a wide range of needs and can be trained in a number of tasks, which could include training to mitigate multiple disabilities.

Q. Why isn’t the dog free?
Service dogs are not provided for free to individuals due to the extensive time, resources, and expertise involved in breeding, raising, and training them. The process requires careful selection, specialized training, and ongoing support to ensure the dogs are equipped with the necessary skills to assist individuals with specific disabilities. These efforts come with significant costs, including food, veterinary care, and professional training. Service dog organizations like 4 Paws for Ability operate as non-profits and rely on donations and fundraising to sustain their operations. Those receiving a 4 Paws for Ability service dog only have to provide half of the amount. The majority of the cost to place the service dog has been covered by the generosity of our donor community because of the dedicated efforts of our Development Team. 

Q. How long does it take to get a service dog?
After the application process and acceptance into our program, the fee for service can be submitted, which is typically accomplished through fundraising, followed by a placement on our waitlist to receive an assistance do.

4 Paws for Ability works hard to minimize the wait for clients, however, there is a period of time between the completion of the fee for service and placement of the service dog. This time frame currently is 2-2.5 years which includes the process to breed, raise and train your service dog.

Q. How much money do I have to pay/raise before I qualify for a dog?
As of June 1, 2022 the fee for service is $20,000. This is only half of what it costs to breed, raise, and train a service dog. Due to additional costs related to breeder acquisition, grooming, and/or dental care there is also an additional cost for $3,000 for clients receiving a doodle, poodle or papillon. Very few of our families pay for their service dog. Fundraising is completed in their communities to help raise the fee.

Q. What happens to the dogs who don’t make it through service dog training?
4 Paws dogs who do not pass their service dog training go up for adoption as “fabulous flunkies” to join families as pets. Our current waitlist to apply for a fabulous flunky is closed.

Donor FAQs

Q. How can I make a donation?
Donations can be made online HERE. Check donations may be mailed to 4 Paws for Ability at 207 Dayton Ave Xenia, OH 45385. 

Q. How are donations used?
Funds donated directly to 4 Paws for Ability play a crucial role in supporting the entire process of raising and training service dogs. Your donations help bridge the gap between the client’s payment and the total cost to raise and train a service dog, making it more affordable for families to receive a life-changing service dog. By supporting us, you directly contribute to providing the necessary care, professional training, and specialized equipment that our service dogs require.

The cost to raise and train a service dog at 4 Paws for Ability ranges from $40,000 to $60,000, encompassing expenses such as supplies, medical care, food, and training equipment. To make this program accessible, 4 Paws for Ability fundraises to cover a portion of the cost, while families contribute a fee for service. 

Q. How can I donate stock?
Donations of appreciated securities, usually common stock, provide a tax-efficient way of making your gift. For more information on gifts of appreciated securities, consult with a tax-advisor in your state or contact KaLynn Clark, Development Director, at

Once you have made a decision to donate securities, please have your broker contact KaLynn Clark with the number of shares, the company name, and your name so that we can accurately credit and track your donation.

Account brokerage: Charles Schwab
Account title: 4 Paws for Ability
DTC number: 0164 Account number: 16837601

Q. Can I make a planned gift to 4 Paws for Ability in my will?
Yes, the easiest ways to make a planned gift to 4 Paws for Ability is to make a bequest within your will. If you already have a will in place, you simply need to speak to your lawyer to include 4 Paws for Ability.

Q. Does 4 Paws for Ability participate in the Combined Federal Campaign?
Yes, 4 Paws is on the list of charities for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). This means all federal employees and retirees can make us their charity of choice for CFC giving. Our CFC number is 59894.

Q. Can I donate in memory or in honor of someone?
Yes, when making an online donation (Donate HERE) you will be asked if your gift is in memory or in honor of someone and you may choose to send them notification of the donation. If you donate by check, include details of who the donation is in memory or in honor of, the recipient of the card (can be sent to family of the memorial, or directly to an honoree), and the mailing address.

Q. Can I sponsor a service dog in training or a litter of puppies?
Yes, if you are a monthly donor of $100 or more to 4 Paws for Ability, you will be sponsoring a service dog in training and receive monthly updates about your dog. You may also sponsor an entire litter of puppies and name each puppy. More information can be found HERE.

Q. How can I stay updated on the impact of my donation?
There are multiple ways to stay updated on the impact of your donation. You may email KaLynn Clark at, attend a monthly graduation, follow 4 Paws for Ability on social media, and subscribe to our newsletter. If you sponsor a service dog in training or a service dog litter, you will receive monthly email updates.

Q. What donations are tax deductible?
All donations to 4 Paws for Ability, except those that are made directly to a specific, named child’s fee for service for an assistance dog, are tax deductible. This includes donations made supporting children and veterans (unnamed donations), our building fund, naming opportunities, administrative expenses, veterinary care, dog supplies, and undesignated donations. If you have any questions about if your donation will be tax deductible, please contact us directly at

Q. What supplies donation do you need?
Supplies of paper towels, Nylabones, Easy Walk harnesses, leashes, and martingale collars are always appreciated and can be dropped off at our facility, 207 Dayton Ave Xenia, OH. You may also donate supplies via our Amazon wish list.

Volunteer FAQs

Q. How can I become volunteer?
The first step to become a volunteer is to complete our Volunteer Interest Form.

Q. What are the requirements to volunteer?
To volunteer at our facility, anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, serve at least four hours a month for at least the next three months, volunteer between the daily hours of 8am and 8pm, and complete the three steps to become a volunteer; attend an orientation, complete online training, and go through an onsite training.

To foster a service dog in training, your home must be within three hours of the 4 Paws for Ability facility in Xenia, OH, be at least 18 years of age, complete an online training program and attend an in-person orientation at 4 Paws for Ability, comply with 4 Paws policies and procedures, provide a stable, safe environment for a puppy to live, and have a vehicle that can be used to travel to 4 Paws for Ability for scheduled and emergent requirements including dog supply pick up, veterinary appointments, and emergency medical needs.

Q. Are there opportunities for groups to volunteer?
Yes, Our Group Volunteer Program is designed for groups looking to help one time, for a few hours. This program is perfect for scouts, company volunteer days, college/high school service projects, or church groups looking to volunteer in their community. Group volunteer visits generally include a presentation about 4 Paws’ history and mission, a tour of the facility, and service projects around the facility. Email the volunteer office for more information.

Q. What are your biggest volunteer needs?
Our biggest volunteer needs are primary fosters for our service dogs in training.