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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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!