Backup Buddy Service Dogs For Individual First Responders

Puppies Behind Bars donates service dogs to first responders with PTSD, TBI, and/or mobility related disabilities. We have a maximum of fifteen dogs to place per year. Puppies Behind Bars pays for 100% of the cost of placement, including transportation and lodging for training. Post-placement, all costs associated with caring for the dog are the responsibility of the recipient.

To qualify for a service dog, you must:

  • Be a first responder (police officer, firefighter, EMS worker, sanitation worker, search and rescue, etc.).
  • Be able to provide a stable, safe environment for our dog, which includes love, daily exercise, medical care and food.
  • Be willing to become more independent and to work with a highly trained four-legged companion.
  • Be willing to take your service dog with you virtually everywhere you go and, at a minimum, agree the dog will not be left alone for any more than two hours a day.
  • Be willing to exercise the dog off-leash in an outside enclosed area or appropriate park for at least an hour every day, regardless of weather conditions.
  • Be willing to participate in a 14-day “team training” in Chappaqua, NY. About half of team training classes will include working in prison with a small group of carefully selected inmate “puppy-raisers” within a security- supervised classroom that is separate from the general inmate population. “Puppy-raisers” will impart hands-on, professional knowledge to each recipient about his/her dog and will provide detailed information regarding service dog handling and care. Inmate participants in team training are carefully screened by the correctional facility staff and PBB instructors, are closely monitored and evaluated, and are permitted to participate in PBB’s program based on meeting our extremely high standards for their performance and commitment to the well-being of our dogs and those we serve.


Application Process

Please fill out the application below, and attach proof of current or past employment and a recent photo. We will notify you, via email, as soon as we receive your application. PBB staff will conduct an initial review to determine if one of our dogs is the right fit for you. If so, we will then schedule two separate interviews with you to be conducted by two different PBB instructors over the phone and over Zoom video conference. If you live close enough, we may ask to conduct one of the interviews in-person.

If we decide to proceed with your application, we will then send you links to forward to your health care provider and two people who are willing to fill out personal character reference forms (electronically) for you.

Within 2 to 4 weeks, we will contact your references and your health care provider. A decision about your application should be made within six weeks of receipt of your application. If you are selected, you will be placed in our next 14-day “team training.”

Thank you for your interest in getting a Puppies Behind Bars service dog!

Puppies Behind Bars
Service Dogs for Those Who Serve & Protect® Application

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Personal Information

Employment Details

Medical Information

Lifestyle and Residence

Check all that apply.

If you rent, you will be required to submit a letter from your landlord verifying that you may have a service dog.

Dog Care

Your Needs

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Service Dogs for Those Who Serve And Protect Agreement

Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) pays the costs associated with training our dogs and matching them with first responders. PBB will pay for travel and lodging expenses for the first responders to travel to the fourteen-day training where the participant and dog are trained to work together. PBB will also provide most of the meals, but on the nights when we do not go out to dinner together as well as nights you choose to either eat in your hotel room or go out with other participants, those costs will be yours. If you drive to team training and wish to be reimbursed for gas and tolls, please save and remit all receipts. Thirty days after receiving your receipts, PBB will reimburse gas and toll expenses. PBB will not reimburse incidentals such as food or beverages consumed in transit or cultural or entertainment expenses incurred during the fourteen days of training with the dog, nor gasoline used during team training, if you drive.

If, at any time and for any reason, I find that it is impossible to keep the dog I have received from PBB, I will contact PBB and will return the dog to the organization. I will neither sell nor give the dog to anyone, including a family member. PBB will make all arrangements to pick up the dog and no questions will be asked. In addition, PBB feels that the dog's happiness and health are of prime importance, and will take back any dog whose quality of life is not of the highest standards, which includes that the dog maintains a healthy weight, receives proper veterinary care including monthly doses of Heartgard, Nextgard, and Frontline, one hour of off- leash outdoor exercise each day, and lives in the house and is not tied up outside or in a kennel. We will also take back the dog if you do not stay in touch with us, meaning that you do not return our calls, emails, texts, etc. Accordingly, I agree to abide by all of PBB’s follow up and recertification policies and procedures.

PBB will retain ownership of the dog for the life of the dog to ensure that you are working well with the dog and the above standards are met. While we have no intention, or desire, to take a dog back, past experience has shown us, unfortunately, that sometimes it is unavoidable. PBB reserves the right to remove the dog from its placement at any time if one or more of the following situations exist:

    1. The recipient is unable to properly care for the dog, as determined by PBB, including but not limited to the dog maintaining his or her placement weight. The recipient becomes incarcerated, the recipient becomes hospitalized for an extensive period of time, or the recipient is moving outside of the United States. It is up to the recipient to notify PBB of any incarceration, long-term treatment, or international move.
    2. The dog is being neglected or abused, or not exercised.
    3. The dog is no longer being used as a service dog by the recipient.
    4. The recipient uses the service dog in a manner that violates the standards for service dogs established by PBB and Assistance Dogs International (ADI).
    5. The dog and handler do not pass the annual Public Access Test administered by PBB.

PBB will make site visits when I am home with my dog after approximately three months and will test me and my dog annually. I may have to travel to meet PBB instructors for my annual visits. I agree to do such travel and agree that I will comply with all these visits, as well all emails, texts and phone calls from PBB staff and instructors.

I also agree that PBB instructors may speak with my current health care provider and/or future health care providers throughout my dog’s life. I understand that sometimes problems can be resolved by PBB asking my health care provider to intervene

Make a Donation

Puppies Behind Bars is a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, tax I.D. #13-3969389, and donations are tax-exempt to the extent allowed by law.

You may make a one-time donation in any amount you wish, or sign up for recurring gifts on a schedule that works for you.

For gifts in honor or in memory of someone:

If your donation is made in someone’s memory or honor, we will send a card to the designated recipient(s) acknowledging your generous donation on their behalf.

Please include the recipient’s mailing address on the online form. You can view an example of one of our cards here.

Prefer to donate a different way?

PBB offers many ways for you support our mission, including by phone and mail, and with memorial and matching gifts.

Click here to find one that works for you!