In a special edition of Scientific American published in fall of 2015, researchers reported findings of various studies about what a pet reveals about its owner. If you have a dog, you’re more likely to

  • be in senior management, a teacher, professor, nurse, IT professional, military professional, or entertainer;
  • live with family members;
  • consider your pet part of the family;
  • be extroverted, agreeable, and conscientious;
  • have gotten the dog from a shelter or rescue group.


If you own a cat, you’re more likely to

  • be a physician, real estate agent, science or medical lab technician, machine operator, or personal caretaker;
  • be divorced, widowed or separated;
  • live in an apartment;
  • be neurotic and open to new experiences.
  • be college educated.




4Paws was the inspiration of a dear friend and animal advocate, Chris Williams. His idea was to make the world a better place for animals and people by better understanding the emotional bond they share.

Shortly after his death, ten individuals came together in early 2010 to work on Chris’ project. In September of that year, 4Paws was incorporated in northern California, and officially became a 501(c)(3) in 2011. The organization’s mission is to ensure and enrich the relationship between people and their pets through education and service to the community.

To date, 4Paws volunteer teams visit residential care facilities, hospitals, libraries and classrooms, in the Greater North Bay area of San Francisco. They share their canine companions with anyone needing comfort or a loving nudge of the nose.

In keeping with Chris’ vision, 4Paws offers classes to the community on a host of topics: pet nutrition, canine behavior, positive training methods, exercise programs, and adjunct therapies such as massage and acupuncture.

Until 4Paws finds its forever home, we are delighted and honored that Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital allows us to use its conference rooms for community presentations. We are very grateful to Mike Campbell, owner of Paradise Pet Resort in Rohnert Park, for giving us office space to operate the organization.

See Our Teams in Action

Please see our YouTube video from Impact100 Sonoma who awarded 4Paws a community grant to increase the number of canine social therapy teams.


FAQ's About 4Paws

1. How old do you have to be?

Changes in healthcare protocols make it difficult find placements for anyone under the age of 18. We regret any inconvenience or disappointment, but our goal has been to find suitable facilities for our new teams as soon as possible after certification classes. New insurance protocols together with the dependability and flexibility of students’ schedules make that very difficult to do.

2. Are therapy dogs like service or assistance dogs?

No. Therapy dogs are owned by a person who wants to volunteer with his or her canine to bring comfort, support, or joy to others. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for someone with disabilities. These disabilities include but are not limited to: loss of sight, hearing, or mobility; severe emotional distress (PTSD) or emotional/social disorders; or diseases like MS, cancer, heart disease, epilepsy, or diabetes.

3. Can I take a therapy dog with me when I travel or go into stores?

No. You may not take a therapy dog on planes or on public transport, or to restaurants, hotels, or stores that do not accept pets. A therapy dog is a pet and if an owner misrepresents a dog, he or she can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined under the Americans with Disability Act.

4. I need an assistance/service dog. What can I do?

We do not have the ability to return calls requesting information about training a personal service dog. We suggest that anyone needing a service dog start with these organizations:

Bergin University of Canine Studies,
Canine Companions for Independence,
Dogs for the Deaf,
Guide Dogs for the Blind,

Information for certifying your own dog as a service animal:
The best place to start is your local county animal shelter. They can tell you what they require for certification, such as a statement from your health care professional, certificate of specialized training, and/or immunization records.

If you live in the north bay area of San Francisco and want to train your own dog as a service animal, you may also contact Mike Ossenbeck who owns "Common Ground Dog Training". He has worked for Canine Companions for Independence and is a positive-reinforcement training advocate and leader. Mike can be contacted at


donate to 4Paws
paw print


girl reading to readers of the pack dog in library

Chris Williams

4Paws was the inspiration of a dear friend and animal advocate, Chris Williams. In keeping with Chris’ vision, 4Paws offers classes to the community on a host of topics.


Outside the North Bay?

4Paws is a 501(c)(3) that serves primarily Sonoma County; we have some teams and sites in specialized programs in Napa, Marin and San Francisco. If you live elsewhere in California, please go to to find other therapy groups in your area.