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.
FAQ's About 4Paws
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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:
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 email@example.com.