Pawsitivity Service Dogs


Everything about the 501(c)(3) charity, Pawsitivity Service Dogs, all in one place.

Media Resources

We want to make it easy as possible to spread the word about the good works Pawsitivity does! Note: If you are a news reporter or writer, feel free to email or call Executive Director Tom Coleman at [email protected] or 651-321-3647.

Images and video:

  • Photo Library with downloadable images, logo, and video is at the bottom of this page.

Awards and recognition:  

  • Named "Charity of the Month" for April 2016 by Minnesota Wild pro hockey.

  • Rated a "Platinum Participant" Charity by Guidestar Exchange.

  • Given "Top-Rated Nonprofit" status by GreatNonprofits.

  • Received the highest rating ("Meets Standards for Public Disclosure, Governance, Financial Activity, and Fundraising") by Minnesota's Charities Review Council.

One-sentence description of what Pawsitivity Service Dogs is:

  • Pawsitivity Service Dogs is a St. Paul, Minnesota 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity dedicated to rescuing dogs and training them as service dogs for veterans and families.

A four-paragraph description of what Pawsitivity Service Dogs does:

  1. Pawsitivity helps both people and dogs simultaneously by rescuing unwanted dogs and training them as service dogs for veterans and families. Founded in 2012, Pawsitivity’s vision is to provide the highest-quality trained assistance dogs for veterans and families in need with highly individualized lifetime support for each dog/handler team.

  2. These highly trained rescue dogs can help veterans in many ways. The dogs can remind their handlers to take medication, pick up dropped objects for someone who is in a wheelchair, or alert a handler with diabetes that their blood sugar is dangerously low. Service dogs can be trained to help children with autism who have issues with wandering or running off and can serve as a “social bridge”, helping with the isolation and loneliness having autism can bring.

  3. Pawsitivity trains just three or four dogs a year because the dog-and-family training process is very intense and focused. Pawsitivity staff goes along to doctors’ appointments and meets with educators if necessary. Pawsitivity staff members are with the dogs 24-7, and the dogs are constantly getting training. Each dog undergoes 900 hours of training, typically over a six- to twelve-month period.

  4. Pawsitivity primarily rescues and trains Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers and mixes of those breeds, and adult dogs are chosen over puppies so that their temperament and energy level is known. Each dog’s training is specifically tailored to their handler’s needs. They’re all ‘second chance’ dogs so Pawsitivity goes through a checklist of what dog would be appropriate, and about one out of 1,000 dogs is right for this high level of training. The dogs must be low-energy and yet trainable, be gentle and not rambunctious, be confident yet not aggressive in any way. They also need to be healthy and the right age. Pawsitivity Service Dogs is a partner member of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, and each dog is trained specifically for the handler's disability, needs, and circumstances.

Good example of a recent article:

Biographies with photos for key staff members:

Tom and Julie Coleman of Pawsitivity Service Dogs
Click to enlarge or download

  • Tom Coleman is the Executive Director of Pawsitivity Service Dogs and is a certified dog trainer and an American Kennel Club approved Canine Good Citizen evaluator.

  • Julie Coleman, CPDT-KA, is the Head Trainer at Pawsitivity, and is a certified dog trainer and trained at CATCH Dog Training Academy at the St Hubert Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ in positive-reinforcement force-free training methods. Julie is a professional member of the APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers), and has taken dog-training seminars in person from Ian Dunbar, Sue Sternberg, and Connie Cleveland. Julie has also studied the Volhardt Four-Drive dog-assessment theory at Mahogany Ridge in Culpepper, Virginia.

  • Their textbook, Service Dogs: The Rescue and Training of Heroes, won the 2016 Midwest Book Award

Personal stories:

Background material:

Social Media:

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Informal glossary of terminology (for precise wording, see links):

  • A "service dog" is trained for someone with a disability, and is trained specifically for that person. The disability has to be severe. Source: Americans with Disabilities Act. Also known as an "assistance dog" or "service animal".

  • A "therapy dog" can be owned by anyone, and then (when invited to visit), the therapy dog can be brought to hospitals, nursing homes, and such, to help comfort people. Since the person doesn't have a disability, the dog cannot be taken anywhere else or any other times (no matter how well-trained the dog is). The designation is an informal term and doesn't have special laws. Source: American Kennel Club.

Style note:

  • "Children with autism" is preferred to "autistic children" (much like "people with disabilities" is preferred to "disabled people").

Style note:

  • There is no copyright restriction on any of these photos or images (or any photos or videos on this website) as long as they are for editorial or news use that mentions Pawsitivity Service Dogs.

Downloadable Pawsitivity logo:

60-second video:


Here is a photo of a Pawsitivity Service Dog-in-training, in two versions: low-resolution (web) and high-resolution (print). 

Pawsitivity Service Dogs
High resolution version of Service Dog-in-training Bailey