Dogs for Better Lives (originally named Dogs for the Deaf), was founded in 1977 by the late Roy G. Kabat, a long time Hollywood and circus animal trainer. Roy trained exotic and domestic animals for movies and television shows including “Dr. Doolittle” and “Born Free”. After retiring to the Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon, he was contacted by the American Humane Association at their headquarters in Denver, Colorado. A deaf woman in Minnesota had a dog that had trained itself to alert her when certain things were occurring. As she lost more and more hearing, the dog alerted her to more and more things. After her dog died, the woman realized how much she had come to depend on the dog and began a search for someone to train a new dog for her. The American Humane Association began some experimental work trying to train dogs to help people who were deaf, and they wanted Roy’s advice. After spending two weeks in Denver, Roy came back to Oregon and founded Dogs for the Deaf now known as Dogs for Better Lives.
Dogs for Better Lives was first located in the Applegate Valley, west of Jacksonville, Oregon on Roy’s ranch. In 1989, the location moved to our current 40-acre site at the base of Lower Table Rock in Central Point, Oregon.
Robin Dickson, Roy Kabat’s daughter, joined Dogs for Better Lives in 1981. After Roy passed away, Robin became President and CEO in 1986. Robin retired in December 2013 after 32 years with the organization.
Dogs for Better Lives is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1977 by the late Roy G. Kabat. Roy worked with exotic and domestic animals for movies and television and had a small traveling circus. After retiring to the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon, he was contacted by the American Humane Association and their headquarters in Denver, Colorado.
A deaf woman in Minnesota had owned a dog that trained itself to let her know when sounds were occurring in her home. As she lost more of her hearing, her dog alerted her to more and more sounds. After her beloved dog died, the woman realized how much she had come to depend on the dog and began a search for someone to train a new dog for her.
The American Humane Association initiated experimental work trying to train dogs to help people who were deaf, and they contacted Roy for advice. After spending two weeks in Denver, Roy returned to Oregon and began Dogs for the Deaf.
Our first location was outside Jacksonville, Oregon, then moved in 1989 to our current 40-acre site at the base of Lower Table Rock in Central Point, Oregon.
In 2017, Dogs for the Deaf was renamed Dogs for Better Lives and we are celebrating our 40th anniversary, recognizing the more than 1,300 dog placements that have occurred during our years of operation.
FUNDING: Dogs for Better Lives is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization and depends solely on individuals, businesses, and groups for funding. Donations of all sizes are needed to help us provide these professionally trained dogs to those who need them most. Dogs for Better Lives does not receive any government funding.
PROGRAMS: Dogs for Better Lives rescues dogs from animal shelters after they have been evaluated by one of our skilled trainers. The dogs are humanely treated and professionally trained to enhance the lives of the people we serve. During training, all dogs receive obedience training and are socialized around people and other dogs in one of our training programs:
- Hearing Assistance Dogs are trained to alert people to household sounds that are necessary for everyday safety and independence. They are trained to make physical contact and lead their person to the source of the sound. By providing sound awareness and companionship, these dogs enhance safety, parenting skills, increase employability and provide greatly increased freedom and independence.
- Facility Dogs Facility Dogs (formerly Program Assistance Dogs) go to work with and assist full-time professionals such as physicians, certified special education teachers, counselors and other licensed therapists in the treatment of and work with their clients and students with disabilities. These dogs can provide a calming effect, allowing the professional to better serve or treat the clients. These dogs do not have public access except when accompanying the professionals and their clients.
- Autism Assistance Dogs Life is full of possibilities. But if you have a young child on the autism spectrum, there are times when those possibilities seem limited. At Dogs for Better Lives, our Autism Assistance Dogs are helping families create more possibilities for safety, confidence, and comfort.
Autism Assistance Dogs are professionally trained to act as an anchor to reduce or slow a child’s ability to bolt, apply deep pressure, and to provide companionship dedicated solely to the child. Combined with their professional training, an Autism Assistance Dogs’ calm and caring behavior has shown to decrease anxiety, increase calmness, reduce emotional meltdowns, and foster more manageable bedtime routines.Dogs for Better Lives is the premier provider of professionally trained Assistance Dogs. We are now accepting applications for children throughout the states of Oregon, California, and Washington who are between the ages of 4 – 11.
- Career Change Dogs Career Change Dogs are wonderful, adoptable dogs who are happy and healthy but just not suited to working for a living. These dogs make loving pets and companions and are looking for their forever homes. They are called CAREER CHANGE DOGS because they have chosen a different “career” path of fun and leisure as a pet. Yes, PET is a valid career choice! After all, when you think of all the responsibility our pets have for our happiness and well-being, how they cheer us up when we’re down, make us laugh, and loves to sit in that special sunny place on the living room floor… it takes a special dog to be a family pet. These dogs make loving pets and companions and are looking for their forever homes.
Career Change Dog Capabilities
INVESTMENT IN TRAINING THE DOGS AND THEIR PARTNERS: From the very beginning, Dogs for Better Lives has committed to on-going support for the life of every dog and person partnership established. The needs and abilities of applicants and dogs are carefully matched and tracked to assure they receive maximum benefit for each other.
Dogs for Better Lives is committed to providing the very finest quality of training for both the dogs and the clients. This begins with the initial screening of dogs and applicants and continues throughout the life of the Team. Costs include all expenses associated with:
- Rescuing and caring for the dog – Includes two weeks in quarantine, spaying/neutering, vaccinations, microchipping, x-rays, and complete medical testing and physical exams provided for physical soundness of the dog. Sometimes surgery or other procedures may also be needed prior to training or placement.
- Initial Training – between four and six months of obedience, socialization, and specialized training at Dogs for Better Lives.
- Screen – each applicant using a thorough process to carefully determine the person’s needs, abilities, personality, lifestyle, and ability to care for the dog.
- Match – each dog to the best possible applicant.
- Placement Training– a Certified Trainer travels with the dog to the new client’s home for one week of hands-on, transition and skills retention training.
- Follow-up Training– continued coaching, support and advice for the client for the life of the team. Progress reports are required monthly for the 1st year and annually thereafter.
- Assist – the client with the retirement or passing of the assistance dog and processing for a successor dog.
- Dogs for Better Lives’ Investment – includes rescuing and training the dogs, reviewing and selecting qualified applicants for placement, placing the dog in the person’s home,
- No Charge to clients – Dogs for Better Lives depend solely on donations to support its programs. No public funding or federal grants are working with the Team during the transition, and continuing support and help for the life of the team. Although this investment varies, the average cost is estimated at approximately $25,000 per team.
- This Investment – provides the priceless gifts of a lifetime of care and love for the dog and greatly increased independence, security, peace of mind, companionship and love for the person.