Service Dogs For Police and Fire Departments

For community outreach and departmental wellness

Puppies Behind Bars donates service dogs to police and fire departments for community outreach, crisis response and department enrichment. 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 will be the responsibility of the recipient or department.

To qualify for one of our dogs, you must:

  • Be able to provide a stable, safe environment for our dog, which includes love, daily exercise, medical care and food.
  • Be able to take the dog with you to work. 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 include working in prison with a small group of incarcerated individuals, carefully selected as “puppy-raisers” within a security-supervised classroom that is separate from the general 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. Incarcerated individuals who are 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. We will notify you, via email, that we have received your application. PBB staff will conduct an initial review to determine your eligibility. After that, we will schedule two separate interviews with you, conducted by two different PBB instructors. These interviews will be both over the phone and over Zoom video conference. If you live close by, we may ask to conduct one of the interviews in-person.

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

We will also require a letter from the appropriate head of your department and/or municipality. This letter should explain:

  1. Why you have been selected by the department to be the dog caretaker and handler.
  2. Who will be financially responsible for the dog’s veterinary care, food, and supplies.
  3. How the dog will be transported during your shift. Will you be outfitted with a K-9 vehicle equipped with heat sensors and alarms?
  4. How the dog will be utilized within the department.

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

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Service Dogs for Police and Fire Department Dogs Agreement

Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) pays all costs associated with training  and matching a dog with you, a first responder, and/or your department. PBB will pay for travel and lodging expenses for you for the fourteen-day training where you and the dog are paired and 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 request reimbursement for gas and tolls, PBB will reimburse those costs, based on presented receipts.  Thirty days after receiving the receipts, PBB will send reimbursement. 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 will we reimburse the cost of gas when driving during the 14 days.

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. 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, NexGard, 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.
  2. The dog is being neglected or abused, or not exercised.
  3. The dog is found wandering on its own.
  4. The dog is not used as a working dog and is treated more like a pet.

PBB will make site visits when I am home with my dog after approximately three months and will test me and my dog once a year thereafter. 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 department chief and that all training related records and documentation, including written evaluations on my work with the dog during team training and annually, will be kept on file and may be shared with my department chief.


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!