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.