Pawsitivity Service Dogs

aka Pawsitivity   |   St Paul, MN   |  https://www.pawsitivityservicedogs.com

Mission

Pawsitivity Service Dogs is dedicated to training service dogs for U.S. military veterans and families.

Notes from the nonprofit

Donors: Pawsitivity is the only service dog nonprofit to have its outcomes assessed with an independent third-party Impact Evaluation. See "Additional Documents": https://www.guidestar.org/ViewEdoc.aspx?eDocId=1941843

Ruling year info

2014

Executive Director

Mr. Tom Coleman (he, him, his)

Main address

197 Griggs St N.

St Paul, MN 55104 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

47-1446634

NTEE code info

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

Animal Training, Behavior (D61)

Rehabilitative Medical Services (E50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Problems: 970,000 US Military Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans suffer from PTSD and other post-combat disabilities. A person with autism or epilepsy is 400% more likely to die in any given year. 1,2000,000 unwanted dogs are killed in the U.S. each year. The Solution: Pawsitivity works on all these problems simultaneously. We rescue and train dogs to be loving, loyal service dogs for people with disabilities, including both veterans and civilians.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Service Dogs Program

GOAL: Pawsitivity Service Dogs will match rescue dogs or puppies to individuals with a disability, including both civilians and veterans, and work with them through pairing, training, and certification to create service dog teams that are mutually supportive and will increase capabilities and confidence in the clients. Pawsitivity Service Dogs staff will provide life-long support to service dog teams.

OUTCOME: As a result, the teams will experience greater capacity to engage in their communities and pursue their dreams.

- Activity 1: Pawsitivity Service Dogs begins to create service dog teams through a careful process of selecting both dogs and individuals. Both civilians and veterans are eligible. Candidate dogs go through a process of evaluation to ensure that they are healthy, physically able, and have a temperament suited to the job. Prospective individuals go through a screening process to ensure that a service dog partnership will meet their needs and that they are committed to the ongoing process of partnership. Pawsitivity Service Dogs places special emphasis on establishing realistic expectations in order to emotionally prepare families and veterans for the new work and stress that comes with receiving their service dog. This selection process ensures that service dog partnerships have the basic foundation for lasting success.

- Activity 2: In the second step, the dogs undergo basic training using the latest proven positive training methods. First, we teach the dog manners, such as appropriate social greetings for both dogs and people, and discouraging barking or lunging. Then we work on socialization to stimuli such as unexpected noises and crowded streets, essential environments such as stores and doctor’s offices, and practical conditions for mobility such as elevators, moving walkways, and buses. Finally, Pawsitivity Service Dogs make sure each service dog knows basic cues such as sit, down, stay, touch, leave-it, drop-it, watch-me, heel, place, side, on, and off.

This process verifies that the service dog is capable of performing the tasks necessary to increase independence for the service dog team.

- Activity 3: In the third step, handlers and dogs are paired, trained, and certified. The objective is to educate graduates on proper service dog etiquette, training, laws, and safety. Handlers are interviewed by Pawsitivity Service Dogs staff to identify their needs, capabilities, and how their support system can set them up for success. We match the right dog to the right person to make sure that the strengths of that particular dog will most meet the needs of the handler and then train the dog tasks specific to the hander’s needs. The team will attend training sessions in which the handler will learn to train and employ their service dog in everyday situations. This process not only teaches the skills necessary to help the handler, the process also helps ensure proper bonding of the team. At the end of this process, the handler/dog pairs will be more capable when problem-solving in unexpected situations, transitioning from one difficult activity to the next, and working as a service dog team in public to provide more independence for the handler.

- Activity 4: Once the pairs are established, Pawsitivity Service Dogs offers graduate support. Pawsitivity regularly checks in with graduates, both in-person and on the telephone, to see if any problems have come up in order to provide solutions to keep the pair working together smoothly. If a handler’s needs change, Pawsitivity Service Dogs provides additional training to customize their service dog’s cues and tasks. This ongoing relationship also provides Pawsitivity Service Dogs the opportunity to observe each dog’s progress and to ensure the hander and dog team’s relationship is being utilized to maximum benefit.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Veterans

GOAL: Pawsitivity Service Dogs staff will serve as community ambassadors and educators, showcasing the health and social benefits of positive reinforcement training for both service dogs and their handlers.

OUTCOME: As a result, Pawsitivity will increase public awareness of service dog teams (including service dogs for veterans), growing acceptance for diverse abilities, and promoting animal welfare.

- Activity 1: In order to be good ambassadors, Pawsitivity Service Dogs staff will engage in ongoing professional training. Trainings attended are focused on two areas: how to be a better animal trainer, and how to better work with people with disabilities, including veterans. We constantly strive for 100% of to be up-to-date on current treatment practices, improved methods of service dog training, and improved treatment and relationships with the clients we serve.

- Activity 2: As ambassadors, Pawsitivity Service Dogs conducts public presentations with adults and children to demonstrate how animals and people can work together to improve people’s lives. The outcome is expanding public understanding and knowledge of the needs of children and adults with disabilities, the capabilities of service dogs to assist people with disabilities (incuding veterans), and the responsibilities of the public in regards to service dogs.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Veterans

Where we work

Accreditations

Animal Assisted Intervention International 2020

Impact Assessment, Aurora Consulting 2019

Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans 2021

Awards

Meets Standards--Highest Rating. Public Disclosure, Governance, Financial Activity, and Fundraising 2018

Charities Review Council

Platinum Seal of Transparency 2020

Guidestar

Seal of Approval 2013

Humane Charity

Top-Rated Nonprofit 2013

GreatNonprofits

Charity of the Month 2016

Minnesota Wild Pro Hockey

Midwest Book Award. For textbook "Service Dogs: The Rescue and Training of Heroes" 2016

Midwest Independent Publishers Association: MiPA

Affiliations & memberships

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits 2019

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of dogs rescued and evaluated

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Families

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of service dogs trained and placed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Veterans, People with disabilities

Related Program

Service Dogs Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of families who report that service and support staff/providers are available and capable of meeting family needs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Veterans, People with disabilities

Related Program

Service Dogs Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of briefings or presentations held

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities, Veterans, People with intellectual disabilities

Related Program

Public Education About Service Dogs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Pawsitivity has created an educational coloring book which not only shows working dogs with their handlers, the book has text that describes how the dogs are helping their person with a disability.

Number of hours of training

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Service Dogs Program

Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Our trained staff has written an award-winning textbook, "Service Dogs: The Rescue and Training of Heroes."

Number of service dogs provided to veterans

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Veterans

Related Program

Service Dogs Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Pawsivity's program to provide service dogs for veterans was started in 2019.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Pawsitivity's short-term goal is to provide trained service dogs with a 100% satisfaction rate. Pawsitivity is the only service dog organization to have an independent, third-party Impact Evaluation completed. See "Additional Documents": https://www.guidestar.org/ViewEdoc.aspx?eDocId=1941843

Our long-term goal is to provide service dogs to families with no regard to ability to contribute to a fee. This goal has been attained, and as of mid-2019, Pawsitivity's service dogs are provided at no cost to the recipient.

Pawsitivity's programs and activities are threefold:

Service Dog Placement Program (primary program):
Adopt unwanted dogs and train them as service or therapy dogs for individuals with developmental, psychological, and/or physical disabilities.
What we are measuring:
- Number of service dogs trained and placed
- Number of families who report that service and support staff/providers are available and capable of meeting family needs
- Number of service dogs provided to veterans

Public Education Program (secondary program):
Raise public awareness through informational and educational activities regarding the purpose and function of service dogs, the benefits they provide to their handlers, the needs of people with disabilities that can be addressed with a service dog, and the rights and responsibilities of service dog partners under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The target group is local school children who have expressed an interest to their teachers about the work of service dogs.
What we are measuring:
- Number of briefings or presentations held

Family Dog Program (program is developed as needed):
Ensure that any Pawsitivity Dog candidate who is deemed unsuitable for service dog work, or that any returned or retired Pawsitivity Dog, is adopted to a good home. The families who adopt these dogs benefit from the training the dogs have already received, not only by way of emotional support, but also by adopting an adult dog that does not have major behavioral or health issues but didn't meet the very high level of standards a service dog requires.
What we are measuring:
- Number of dogs adopted to families as a Pawsitivity Family Dog.

Pawsitivity has four staff members with a combined total of over 20 years of service dog training.

Pawsitivity Service Dogs, a nonprofit organization in St. Paul, MN, spends 82.18% of gifts on programs, thus exceeding the Charities Review Council's top rating standard. Pawsitivity has an angel donor who covers the rest of the costs (so all public donations go directly to the programs).

Your donation is effective.
Pawsitivity has used a grant to hire an independent evaluator to create a third-party Impact Evaluation so you can know how your donations impact people in need (see "Additional Documents"). Pawsitivity is the only service dog organization to conduct an independent Impact Evaluation to prove that your donations are providing a high Return on Investment.

Your donation is tracked.
Pawsitivity has been business since 2012, receiving 501(c)(3) status in 2014. We keep our last three years of annual reports, financials, 990s, and CPA reviews available online. All Pawsitivity's annual reports include detailed financials such as SOP, SOA, and SFE. The following is a summary of the key elements of the 2019 report:

Your donation is wisely used.
While some financial experts think that the best metric to judge a nonprofit is their program spending percentage (and Pawsitivity scores an “A” rating in that department with 82.18%), other experts think that different financial metrics are more appropriate for this purpose. In the interest of transparency, here are other metrics that are alternately thought of as quality markers.

Pawsitivity has a 33.2% Operating Reserve, which is over three months of liquid unreserved net assets (LUNA). This high Primary Reserve Ratio confirms that the organization’s resources are flexible enough to support its mission.

Pawsitivity consistently keeps a remarkable 0% Debt Ratio (zero liabilities and no interest expenses), which contributes to a high Viability Ratio. In other words, the nonprofit’s finances have a great deal of resiliency.

We have expanded from training one dog at a time, to training two dogs (and evaluating a third) at all times. Since 2012, we have rescued and evaluated over 100 dogs, paired and trained 24 service dog/families, delivered 24 community visits and presentations, and completed over 300 hours in staff professional development training.

Last year, in 2019, Pawsitivity Service Dogs was able to accomplish these activities:
• 12 dogs rescued and evaluated
• 3 service dog/families paired and trained
• 23 families received ongoing support services
• 2 community visits and presentations delivered
• 80 hours in staff professional development trainings completed.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Pawsitivity is the only U.S. service dog organization to have a third-party independent Impact Assessment created (see "Additional Documents"). • Nearly every parent expressed anxiety about the future death of their child’s service dog. The dog was so important that they worried about how its absence would affect their child. • Because of the recipient family’s fears of the eventual death of their service dog, Pawsitivity will make an extra effort to emphasize our long-standing policy that when a service dog dies, that family will receive top consideration in training the next service dog (in other words, if the family wishes to get another service dog from Pawsitivity, they will be placed at the top of the waiting list).

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Pawsitivity Service Dogs
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Pawsitivity Service Dogs

Board of directors
as of 12/9/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Kris Butler (she, her, hers)

University of Wisconsin River Falls

Term: 2015 - 2017

Dave MackMiller (he, him, his)

Medronic Inc.

Dr. Michelle Parkinson (she, her, hers)

University of Wisconsin River Falls

Julie Coleman (she, her, hers)

Pawsitivity Service Dogs

Dr. Kris Butler (she, her, hers)

University of Wisconsin River Falls

Dr. Sergio Valverde (he, him, his)

University of Wisconsin River Falls

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/23/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/19/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.