Unlike most traditional service-dog training agencies, 4 Paws for Ability (4pawsforability.org) does not have a minimum age requirement, allowing its specially trained dogsto improve the lives of children affected by a variety of disabilities. Founded in 1998, the organization now places around 100 dogs every year, each trained in a set of specialized skills. Types include guide dogs, hearing dogs, mobility and autism assistance dogs, and alert dogs for seizures, diabetic emergencies, and allergic reactions. Several groups, such as fetal alcohol syndrome assistance dogs, are unique to 4 Paws. Though its focus remains on children, 4 Paws also places service dogs with injured veterans. Whenever possible, 4 Paws adopts its animals from shelters and rescue groups.
The charity has earned a four-star overall rating from Charity Navigator, which rates not-for-profit organizations on the strength of their finances, their control of administrative and fundraising expenses, and the transparency of their operations. Four stars is the group’s highest rating.