Paws On-Campus Program: 4 Paws University

4 Paws for Ability has now teamed up with local universities to bring on-campus foster programs to their schools. Students foster our service dog puppies for a semester; bringing them to class, activities, meetings, shopping, events, and basically everywhere they go! We typically have about 60 dogs in foster at the various universities each semester, with a smaller program during the summer. The college students often participate in 4 Paws fundraising as well as fostering. What a wonderful learning experience for the puppies we have in training!


 Official Campus Programs:

Additional Schools that have hosted Service Dogs in training:


  • 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 and Golden Retrievers but we also use Papillons, Collies, German Shepherd Dogs, Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, Standard Poodles, and some mix breed dogs created at 4 Paws for specific jobs such as the Bloodhound Lab and the German Retriever.
  • What is required of me? Basically 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 (socialization). You must be able to attend classes with the University Program Coordinator. If you are wanting to see a new program at your university it must be within three hours from 4 Paws for Ability, which is based in Xenia, OH.
  • Can I have other pets in my home? It is fine to have other pets in your home and actually is a good socialization experience. If you have another dog, it must be friendly toward other dogs and up to date on all vaccines. We will do a temperament test with your pet dog and you must bring your pet dog to 4 Paws to make sure he gets along with your potential foster puppy.
  • Isn’t taking care of a puppy expensive? There does not need to be any cost to you (however anything you provide is considered a tax deductible donation to the agency). You can receive from 4 Paws: a crate, leash, collar, vet care, toys, dog bowls, food, vest to be socialized in, etc. Supplies will be brought to your campus during University Program scheduled meetings. We have a full time vet here at 4 Paws that the puppy will see at no cost.
  • Where do I go from here? If there is already a program on your campus you can pursue participation by contacting your university program or by emailing to find out whom your university program leader is. If there is not a program at your university, see “Creating a Fostering Program at Your University” below.
  • 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 the dogs up, but it is also so rewarding. I would encourage you to read some of the testimonials on our website. The dogs are truly making a difference, and it is wonderful being a part of that. Additionally, even after you give the puppy back for advanced training, we will keep you posted on how the training is going and let you know what child is being matched with your puppy. When the training is done, you are welcome to attend the graduation and meet the family who is getting your puppy.

Creating a Fostering Program at Your University

  1. Contact Dean of Students to see if your university would be open to having service dog in training on campus
    (Bring 4 Paws Information Handout and Brochures)
  2. Decide on University Coordinator
  3. Spread awareness about the program
                a. Presentations
                b. Volunteer fairs
                c. School newspaper
                d. Message boards
  4. Hand out applications provided to interested students
  5. University Coordinator works with 4 Paws Trainer to approve applications and admittance to the program.
  6. Students contacted and meetings scheduled.

Here’s what students are saying…

Katie Rush | University of Kentucky Foster, Fall 2012

I have people come up to me all the time and ask me how I can give up the dog after getting attached to him and that they could never do the program because of that. I know that its going to one of the most difficult things that I have ever done, but I also know how completely worth it it will be. Neo will eventually go to a family who has wanted him longer than he has probably been alive, a family who will love him unconditionally and most importantly to a child who needs that forever friend that will help them live their lives to its fullest potential. Sure, Neo can be a handful at times, but its all worth it when I’m out in public and people compliment his behavior or thank me for helping such a good cause. Giving up Neo after being with him 24/7 for the past three months is going to be hard, but knowing I’m helping change people’s lives and giving Neo to a family that’s going to enjoy being him 24/7 for the rest of his life makes it all worth.

Emily Rudman | Wittenberg Foster, 2009, 2010 

I don’t know if I can truly explain in words what the 4 Paws program on Witt’s (Wittenberg) campus has meant to me. It’s been everything really. It helped me find my passion, my vocation, and taught me so much about caring for dogs, the importance of service, and about who I really am. The four dogs I trained through this program taught me more about responsibility, patience, and love than any human I have ever known. Because of my involvement in this program, I really hope to work with either 4 Paws or a similar organization in my future. I’ll be attending Vet school at Purdue in the fall, and I hope to use my degree to continue training and caring for service animals. It is also my goal to keep up with the program on Witt’s campus, and maybe even help to start a similar program on other campuses (like Purdue maybe!) I think it’s such an amazing opportunity for the students involved and a great environment for the dogs to be socialized in. I wish I had more words to describe just how much this program means to me, but I am truly at a loss for words. All I know is I will never be the same, and I feel so incredibly blessed for that. 

Kristen Shaver | University of Kentucky Foster, Spring 2012
College is made up of memories and experiences. My fondest and best experience that I have been involved with at UK was being apart of the 4 Paws for Ability at UK. I had a friend that was fostering a 4 Paws dog and I immensely questioned her about it for weeks! After the application process and after I found out that I would be able to foster a puppy the next semester, I was so ecstatic! Having a puppy live with me and be able to bring it everywhere with me, who wouldn’t want that? Countdowns began to when I would finally meet my foster puppy! When I saw Lugnut being loaded off the trailer, I could not even begin to tell you the excitement I was feeling! To this day, fostering Lugnut has still been my biggest reward in life. Being able to say that I helped in the process of him changing a child’s life forever is not something everyone can say. Thank you to 4 Paws for letting me be apart of an amazing experience!


Heidi Miranda Clinger | Wright State University Foster, Fall 2012

Fostering a puppy for 4 Paws has been such a good experience for me! It’s so cool to watch the puppies develop and change throughout the semester, growing in their social confidence and obedience skills. I really enjoy having my foster in class and with me everywhere I go, but the best part about this program is knowing that I’m helping someone. That my foster will be someones hero one day, and I got to play a part in helping him get there! I absolutely love 4 Paws for Ability and I am so glad I joined the university program!