Give Us Paws is a Texas, Federally recognized 501(c)(3), nonprofit corporation based in Houston that provides free, in-home training and certification of eligible candidates' existing dogs as service animals for disabled veterans, especially with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)/emotional disabilities. We also provide services to disabled adults and children eligible under the ADA, but veterans receive priority for funding and training. We concentrate on funding our training of service animals with handlers suffering from PTSD, diabetes* and limited mobility issues in order to improve the quality of their lives.
There are thousands of returning veterans suffering from PTSD having issues adjusting to normal life. Last year, the VA cut all funding for service animals of veterans with PTSD and there's a large gap that needs to be filled with extremely limited resources. To acquire a trained Service Dog can cost $20,000.00-$30,000.00; the waiting lists can be multi-years long, programs for training and funding for that training are scarce. We provide an in-home training program free of charge to our disabled veterans, if funds are available for training. Our program costs $3,000.00-$5,000.00 for civilians.
Currently, there is no federal registration or certification for service animals. ADI (Assistance Dogs International) outlines a set of Minimum Training Standards for Public Access that's used to provide guidance on training and standards. Our program consists of a 6-month, intensive curriculum requiring 120 logged hours of training; 1 hour per week with a trainer and 4 hours per week of handler/animal homework. At the end of the course, the animal is required to meet the requirements of the Assistance Dogs International Public Access Certification Test and must also be individually trained to perform at least three identifiable tasks on command or cue for the benefit of the disabled human partner.
*Continue to follow your doctor’s advice and instructions for the management of your blood sugars, even after your dog starts alerting. A Diabetes Alert Dog (DAD) does not replace medical protocol. A DAD is not a replacement for medical advice and should not be relied upon as the only way to check blood sugars.
1Give Us Paws trains dogs to assist those with disabilites to improve the quality of their lives. More importanly than teaching the dog, we teach the handler to train their dog. We price our training on a sliding scale determined by financial eligibility or free of charge, if qualified. Disabled veterans receive priority for funding and training. Help us help those in need by making a donation.
2Give Us Paws is differentiated from most Service Dog training programs by our intensive, in-home, 6-month training program requiring participants to have an existing dog suitable for Service Dog training. We require the logged recording of 1 hour/week with a trainer and 4 hours/week of animal/handler homework.
3We do not supply dogs, but may assist with animal assesments to determine suitability for training as a Service Dog. Candidate's dog must already reside in the home for training to begin.
4Give Us Paws is committed to working with the handlers and dogs as they learn to work together as a team.
5Give Us Paws is dedicated to acting as an advocate for veterans' and disabled civilians' rights and educating the public about Service Dogs.
6Give Us Paws uses only positive, clicker-training methods. We use excitement, fun, rewards and other surprises to keep the dogs motivated and eager to please. Read more about our training methods.
Board of Directors
- Paul Buescher
Peace-time, service-connected, disabled Navy veteran, Paul, has spent many long hours at the VA hospital in Houston over the years. He had the opportunity to speak with numerous veterans, saw a need and the opportunity to help. Give Us Paws was incorporated as a nonprofit organization to provide funding for Service Dog training and certification to improve the quality of life for disabled veterans and civilians.
- Karen Kleypas
Local business owner and animal rescue advocate, Karen has a deep passion for helping both veterans and animals alike. She has held positions on her local civic association Board as both Vice President and Secretary.
- Michele Corbin
Michele is currently the Accounting Analyst at Main St. Capital in Houston, has been a bookkeeper and office manager in the construction industry for many years. In the past, she has served as Treasurer on the Board of her local civic association.
- Laurie Gawelko, MS
Laurie is the owner of Service Dog Express in San Antonio, has four years of Masters-level training and a subsequent degree (MS) in Service Dog work from the only university in the United States that is fully accredited by Assistance Dogs International – Bergin University for Canine Studies in northern California. The school was founded by Dr. Bonita Bergin, the "inventor" of the Service Dog concept. She has been training basic obedience as well as Service and Therapy Dogs for over six years, and was a Veterinary Technician for five plus years.
- Dr. Ruichard Dubuisson, DVM
Dr. Dubuisson is the Chief Veterinary Advisor to Give Us Paws, has been in practice since 1988 and with Banfield Pet Hospitals since 1992. Although his practice just includes small animals - dogs & cats, he also performs some orthopedic services.