About Us

About Us

Pawsitivity Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing dogs and training them as Service Dogs for people with disabilities.

About the Nonprofit

Our goal is to “rescue dogs to rescue people.”


An award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Pawsitivity Service Dogs is a St. Paul, MN 501c3 charity nonprofit, formed in 2012 to rescue dogs and train them assistance dogs for people with developmental and physical disabilities, focusing on children with autism. When a dog is not appropriate for a child with autism, we train the dog for someone with a different disability. Pawsitivity provides focused, personalized assistance and guidance to each family/handler throughout the training process and then throughout the lifetime of the dog.

We prove the rescuing and training.

Our Facebook page is both interesting and informative, and  you can track how the dogs are being trained in real-time.

We walk the walk.

Pawsitivity has consistently earned the highest grades given out for accountability and transparency (see awards and details of financials below).

100% goes to the dogs.

An "angel donor" covers our operating costs so 100% of your money goes directly to rescuing dogs and training them as Service Dogs.


Executive Director

 American Kennel Club approved Canine Good Citizen evaluator (#88541).

Tom works with the families receiving the Service Dogs, as well as with their doctors, teachers, and caregivers. 


Head Trainer and Managing Director

Certified Professional Pet Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed #3164407, a title is one that less than 2,000 trainers have worldwide--to even apply to take the test requires a minimum of 300 hours of experience in dog training within the last three years. Julie trained at CATCH Dog Training Academy at the Saint Hubert Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ in positive-reinforcement force-free training methods. Julie joined as a professional member of the APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers #85974) and has taken dog-training seminars in person from Connie Cleveland, Sue Sternberg, and Ian Dunbar.



Pawsitivity publishes its financials as public information, all in accordance with GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles). Pawsitivity Service Dogs earned a 501(c)(3) charity designation in 2014, duly registered in the state of Minnesota. Pawsitivity receives no federal or state funding. We rely primarily on individual contributions to provide specially-trained service dogs to people with disabilities. 

"Highest rating."

For the second year in a row, the Minnesota's Charities Review Council  has certified that Pawsitivity has achieved the highest rating ("Meets Standards for Public Disclosure, Governance, Financial Activity, and Fundraising").
Grantmakers often want to see the latest Annual Report with detailed financials such as SOP, SOA, and SFE. Pawsitivity proudly presents the following as a summary of the key elements:


Over 84% of funds went directly to programs, which Minnesota's Charity Review Council considers the top standard.


The IRS designates all donations to Pawsitivity as 100% tax-deductible. Pawsitivity's EIN is 47-146634 and a copy of our designation letter is here


Pawsitivity started in 2012, earning 501(c)(3) status in 2014.

Board of Directors

Dr. Kris Butler

Dr. Kris Butler

Dr. Michelle Parkinson

Dr. Michelle Parkinson

Vice President
Dave Mackmiller
Dave Mackmiller
Julie Coleman

Julie Coleman

Staff Member

Professional Volunteers

Dr. Jen Seidel, DVM

Dr. Jen Seidl, DVM

Grand Avenue Veterinary Services
Volunteers her medical services 
Reggie Mathew
Reggie Mathew
Flies emergency trips to rescue dogs out of disaster areas
Dr. Beth Rausch, DVM
Dr. Beth Rausch, DVM
University of Wisconsin-River Falls 
Partnered with Pawsitivity, as well as served as medical advisor
Dr. Kim Halvorson

Dr. and Professor of Psychology Kim Halvorson

Metro State University
Donates her professional expertise


Our 500-page textbook, Service Dogs: The Rescue and Training of Heroes, won the prestigious Midwest Book Award for 2016.


Compared to many heavily-funded charities, Pawsitivity stands as a small underdog, yet we adhere to the highest standards of training, ethics, and transparency. 
Partner Member of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP).
Achieved Candidate status with Assistance Dogs International.
Joined as a proud member of Animal Assisted Intervention International and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

Contact Info

Pawsitivity Service Dogs
197 Griggs St N
St Paul, MN 55104




Awards and Ratings

Guidestar Platinum Participant


“Platinum Participant Charity"
Top-Rated Nonprofit, GretaNonprofits


“Top-Rated Nonprofit”



Pawsitivity’s Mission is to rescue, train and place Service Dogs for individuals with disabilities, focusing on children with autism. Sometimes a dog is not appropriate for a child, and then we train the dog for an adult with other disabilities.


- To provide the highest-quality trained Service Dogs.

- To provide highly-individualized lifetime support for each dog-handler team.

- To be financially independent with funds available to those clients who need assistance with the fundraising process.


Here is Pawsitivity's Privacy Policy. Note that this privacy policy is mainly about keeping your medical and financial information private (as all good websites are supposed to do), but also, we believe that your personal privacy is important, as well. We will not post online or in print about you or your family without your permission. Privacy is important to both you and us, and we feel that you should always have choices and feel empowered and in charge of everything that is shared (or not).


The story of Pawsitivity Service Dogs starts with a boy and his dog. In 2012 the two of us, Tom and Julie Coleman, had a conversation with a good friend, a single mother with a child with autism. She told us the story how her boy was so greatly helped by his dog that it changed the course of his life.
To help provide trained service dogs for families (and rescue dogs at the same time), we founded the nonprofit Pawsitivity Service Dogs to rescue dogs and train them as Service Dogs, focusing on children with autism. When a dog isn't appropriate for a child, we train the dog for an adult with a disability. Since 2012, the organization has earned the Platinum Standard from Guidestar and achieved the highest rating by the Charities Review Council--unheard-of feats for a new nonprofit. Additionally, Julie earned the title of CPDT-KA, and together, we wrote a groundbreaking 500-page textbook on Service Dog training, which then won the 2016 Midwest Book Award. Pawsitivity has consistently led the way with scientifically-based positive training, a focus on underserved populations such as people with autism and epilepsy, and a commitment to staying small and only training two to three dogs per year so we can give individualized attention and keep standards high.

It's hard to admit how much the thought of breaking new ground to found Pawsitivity scared us, and the more we worked, the more we found new challenges. Rescuing and training Service Dogs and getting them into the hands of the people who need them so badly takes not just dogs, not just trainers, but also a whole coordinated system of organization. How to fight the Goliath of regulations, fundraising, insurance, licensing, board creation, the costs of training and a decade of support, as well as finding the emotional strength to manage the years of tears and heartache that comes with working with both rescue dogs and people with disabilities? We quickly found that we couldn't do it alone.

We found the key to Pawsitivity's sustainable success by leveraging the power of the community. In addition to Pawsitivity's strong board of directors (which includes two doctorates), we discovered help in many ways: Grand Avenue Veterinary Center vowed to manage the spaying and neutering, Garrison Keillor donated autographed items to be auctioned off, John D. Docken VP and Corporate Counsel of First Intl. Bank & Trust of ND, MN, and AZ advised on compliance, plus the Minnesota Wild awarded Pawsitivity "Charity of the Month." Together, we discovered that unwanted dogs can be rescued and rehabilitated, the dogs and families can be trained to work as effective dog-handler teams, and experts can be used in every step of the way. And Pawsitivity discovered that you, too, can be part of the solution.

The 100% model

We believe that your donations serve an incredibly important purpose and should only be used in the very best way. Thus, 100% of your donations go directly to rescuing dogs to rescue people. Pawsitivity has an "angel donor" who covers our operating expenses, therefore, every penny you donate goes to rescuing and training these amazing dogs--who then help children and adults with disabilities lead successful and fulfilling lives.

Check Out What the Press Are Saying

Saint Paul Magazine
"Pawsitivity Service Dogs is changing the lives of families affected by autism"
Saint Paul Magazine
“Gets the child's day turned around--back to class sooner, engaged again.”
Star News of Elk River
“A great impact.” 
Star News of Elk River
myTalk 107.1
“Helping children with autism and other disabilities.”
myTalk 107.1 

Partnering with companies, nonprofits and schools

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