How to Get Started
4 Paws for Ability University Program accepts new program participants twice a year, fall and spring semesters. Summer session is reserved only for returning handlers, new participants are unable to begin in the summer. If you are attending classes at one of our 13 official campus programs, you should contact them for more information on how you can participate and when applications are due – all students at schools with an official program must work with their student campus coordinators. Those schools include:
Founding Campus Program
Morehead State University
Ohio State University
University of Cincinnati
University of Kentucky
Ohio Northern University
University of Dayton
Wright State University
If you are currently at a college or university that does not have an official campus program or you do not know how to contact your student campus representatives, you can contact our University Program coordinator directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . Thinking about starting your own campus program? Jump to here!
FAQs about the 4 Paws University Program
- How long will I have my foster puppy? University Program fostering lasts a semester and is for puppies who have a foundation of training with our prison program and have completed their routine vet care. In addition at some of the schools we have basic puppy raisers who foster younger puppies, but these puppies do not attend classes.
- What breeds of puppies are available? We use many breeds in our service dog program here at 4 Paws for Ability. Many of our dogs are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers or Golden Lab mixes, but we also have a few other breeds including Papillons, German Shepherds, Goldendoodles, Standard Poodles.
- What is required of me as a student handler? We ask that the puppy will be a part of your life on campus and you take the puppy with you as many places as possible (this is the socialization requirement that ensures service puppies in training are fully prepared to become working service dogs). Student handlers must also help assist in teaching their service puppy in training basic obedience commands. Student handlers must be able to attend monthly classes with the University Program Coordinator at 4 Paws for Ability in Xenia, OH.
- Can I have other pets in my home? 4 Paws for Ability does permit puppy raisers to have other pets in the home and it is a good socialization experience for a service puppy in training. If a student handler has another dog, it must be friendly toward other dogs and up to date on all vaccines. 4 Paws for Ability will do a temperament test with the pet dog and the student handler must bring the pet dog to 4 Paws for this test. 4 Paws temperament test is used to make sure pet dogs are appropriate social mates for potential foster puppies.
- Isn’t taking care of a puppy expensive? 4 Paws for Ability is able to provide supplies and services to University Program participants including: a crate, leash, collar, vet care, toys, dog bowls, food, and training vest. Supplies must be picked up at 4 Paws for Ability or during University Program scheduled meetings. 4 Paws has a full time veterinary staff that the puppy will see at no cost. Any additional treat, toys, or supplies can be purchased by the student handler if desired.
- Ok, I’m ready to apply! Now what? If there is already a program on your campus you must contact your student campus coordinator (see list from top of page). If you do not know your student campus coordinator, please email Lynn Agee at email@example.com to find out how to contact your student campus coordinator. If there is not a program at your university, see “Creating a Fostering Program at Your University” below. Students who do not want to manage a program, but still would like to raise a puppy will still need to work with leaders at their school for approval before 4 Paws is able to begin working with the potential student handler.
- How would I give the puppy up? This is the hardest question and the one why many people believe they can’t foster. It is hard to give up a dog that you have spent so much time with and worked very hard with, however it is also so rewarding. I would encourage any student considering joining the 4 Paws University Program to read some of the testimonials above, and the additional articles available about our 4 Paws University Program here. The dogs raised in the 4 Paws University Program are truly making a difference in the lives of children and veterans, and participants report that it is wonderful being a part of something that makes such a profound impact on another person. Additionally, even after the puppy returns for advanced training, 4 Paws will let student handlers know the status of training, if the dog is matched in an upcoming class, and when graduation will be taking place. Student handlers are encouraged to attend the graduation and meet the family who is receiving the service dog!
Creating a Fostering Program at Your University
We would love for additional universities in the local area to join our 4 Paws for Ability University Program. New programs must be within three hours of 4 Paws for Ability, which is based in Xenia, OH. Interested students should review and complete the steps below. Feel free to contact our University Program Coordinator at any time in the process for guidance.
- Contact 4 Paws for Ability University Program Coordinator to inform 4 Paws of your interest in starting a program. Coordinator: Lynn Agee, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact college or university Dean of Students to see if your school would be open to having service dogs in training on campus
(Bring 4 Paws Information Handout and Brochures)
- Decide on Student Campus Coordinator
- Spread awareness about the program
b. Volunteer fairs
c. School newspaper
d. Message boards
- Hand out applications provided to interested students
- Student Campus Coordinator works with 4 Paws University Campus Coordinator to approve applications and admittance to the program.
- Approved students contacted and meetings scheduled – each semester the Student Campus Coordinator will work with the 4 Paws University Campus Coordinator to approve applications and schedule meetings.