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Get a Service Dog

Build a true partnership to improve quality of life

A quick note about Service Dogs...

There are many kinds of service dogs who serve different types of patients and conditions.  PPH provides service dogs specially-trained for people with physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and other trauma-related conditions.

Service dogs are trained for those with physical disabilities benefit from help with tasks such as:

  • Retrieving items
  • Pushing buttons for elevators and doors
  • Opening and closing doors
  • Turning on or off light switches
  • Pulling a manual wheelchair

We do NOT train or place the following types of dogs.

  • Balance dogs for people who need ongoing support while walking. It is too easy for someone with balance issues to be pulled off balance by a dog. We do train dogs to provide short term bracing to assist with activities such as rising from a seated position and negotiating stairs.
  • Hearing alert/service dogs
  • Medical alert dogs, including diabetic and seizure alert/assistance dogs
  • Scent detection dogs including allergen and gas detection dogs
  • Autism service dogs
  • Dementia service dogs
  • Psychiatric service dogs for civilians
  • Emotional support dogs

The Assistance Dogs International website (www.assistancedogsinternational.org) has a list of accredited organizations that offer these valuable services



Step 1: Complete the application

A completed application includes the following:

  1. Your photo (recent within the last year).
  2. The completed Service Dog Application form (p. 5-12).
  3. The Medical History form (p. 13 – 18) must be completed by your primary physician and/or mental health provider and sent directly to Paws for Purple Hearts. For applicants diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the medical history form must be filled out by the professional overseeing your mental health treatment plan. If you are seeking a service dog for PTSD or TBI and mobility impairment, please have both your physician and your mental health provider fill out separate medical history forms.
  4. The Service Provider Reference form (p. 19-21) identifying relevant healthcare providers we may need to contact for information regarding your need for a service dog.
    • To apply for a service dog for PTSD or TBI, applicants must sign a consent form allowing PPH to communicate directly with their mental health treatment provider or treatment team.
    • To apply for a service dog for mobility impairment, applicants must sign a consent form allowing PPH to communicate directly with their primary physician.
  5. A copy of your DD 214. Please do not send the original document.
  6. Signed acknowledgement from a family member or designated supportive contact (p.11) confirming this person is aware of your application for a service dog and supports the process, the placement of a service dog, and the follow-up of the team.
  7. A personal letter of reference from someone other than a family member, such as a friend, colleague, or teacher.
  8. A professional letter of reference from a therapist, social worker, teacher, supervisor, or any other professional with whom you have contact.
  9. A one-page letter stating your reasons for wanting a service dog and how you feel you would benefit from having a service dog.
  10. Contact information for all persons providing supporting documentation (individuals writing reference letters, health care providers, and any other persons sending in documentation).

To send your application:

Mail a hard copy to:

Paws for Purple Hearts
Attn: Client Services
10201 Old Redwood Highway
Penngrove, CA 94951

or email a scanned copy to: [email protected]


Step Two: Preliminary Acceptance and Additional Paperwork

After your completed application is submitted, our staff will review it to determine whether or not to preliminary accept your application.  If you are preliminarily accepted, we will then send you additional forms and a pre-interview form.


Step Three: Interview

After we receive all additional forms, we will contact you to schedule an interview. If you are able to travel to a Paws for Purple Hearts site, the interview will be conducted in person by our field team.  If you are unable to travel to one of our sites, we will arrange to conduct the interview via video conference.


Step Four: Final Acceptance:

Shortly after the interview we will notify you if you are selected for a service dog placement.  If selected, at this time, it may take up to two years or more to match you with a dog due to the high demand for service dogs and the necessity of matching each dog carefully to the personality and needs of each client.


Step Five: Dog Match

Once a potential service dog match has been identified, you will be invited to attend the two-week Service Dog Client Training Boot Camp held on site at a Paws for Purple Hearts facility. Our service dogs and training are provided free of charge; however, other expenses you may need to plan for include: transportation, housing, food, and entertainment expenses while attending the training course. After you graduate with your dog you will be responsible for the ongoing costs of caring for your new partner, which may include, but is not limited to: food, grooming, toys, other supplies, annual veterinary exam, vaccinations, and other incidental expenses.


Ongoing Support

Once a dog is placed with you, we provide ongoing support for the remainder of the working partnership.  We work in partnership with you to support the dog’s health, behavior, temperament, and training through written, phone, video, and in-person follow-up.  We have a staff member dedicated to client services available to communicate with you whenever you need advice, and we are ready to deploy our local professional trainers to consult with you and support your needs on an ongoing basis.  At a minimum, we proactively reach out for regular follow-up each month for the first six months of placement, and then annually thereafter.  We are proud to offer our clients the opportunity to become full owners of their dog, depending on the specifics of each case.  We also know that when a dog approaches retirement, it can be an uncertain and stressful time for our clients, so we give priority to our existing clients who seek a successor dog when their dog approaches retirement.

Application Request Form

FAQs regarding how to get a service dog

What happens after I submit my application for a service dog?

We will review your completed application to determine your eligibility.  Generally this takes about 8 weeks.

What happens after PPH determines I am eligible for a service dog?

PPH sends you a series of questionnaires to be completed by people who know you well, along with  a preliminary interview form.  You would then complete these forms per the instructions and return them to us.   Once we receive and review all questionnaires and the preliminary interview we will contact you to schedule an interview.

What happens after PPH conducts an interview?

PPH determines whether you are selected for service dog placement and will notify you.

What happens after PPH selects me for placement?

You’ll need to be patient.  Due to the high demand for assistance dogs and the careful  matching process,  it may take more than two years to match a client with a dog. We’ll do our best to make sure you get the finest, most compatible service dog available.

What happens after PPH identifies a potential matching service dog for me?

You will be invited to attend the two-week Service Dog Client Training Boot Camp held at the PPH Facility nearest you.

How much does it cost to get a service dog?

Service dog and boot camp training fees are waived for Paws for Purple Hearts service dog recipients.

However, you will need to plan for are transportation, housing, food and entertainment expenses while attending the training course. Once you graduate with your dog, you may be responsible for the ongoing costs of caring for your new partner including food, grooming and veterinarian expenses.

Consult with your PPH adviser for more details.


We place service dogs with Service Members and Veterans facing challenges such as:

Mobility issues.  Our dogs can help with tasks such as: retrieving items, pushing buttons for elevators and doors, turning lights on/off, bracing to help move from/to wheel-chairs or to navigate stairs, plus many more.

– Diagnosed trauma-related conditions (PTSD or TBI).  Our dogs help by performing a variety of tasks specifically designed to reduce symptom severity.

Through our thorough application process, our qualified staff determines if a PPH service dog will be a fit for your specific needs.

Our Long History

Paws for Purple Hearts is the first program of its kind to offer therapeutic intervention for Veterans and active-duty military.

Therapeutic Intervention

Under the guidance of PPH instructors, Service Members engage with specially-bred Golden Retriever and Labrador puppies.


PTSD patient-trainers must overcome their emotional and affective numbness in order to heighten their tone of voice, bodily movements.

Donation Dollars at Work

With just $19/month gift you will ensure a future service dog has all of its vaccinations, training equipment, and of course toys to get started in their life altering education.

Your gift of any amount will be a tremendous help to our Service Dogs in Training. It costs $52/month in dog food alone for just one dog.

Paws for Purple Hearts Dogs are trained to the most exacting certification because our Veterans deserve the best, and thanks to you, they will never have to pay for any of our services. It costs more than $35,000 to raise just one dog to this high standard.

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