Our Programs

Canines With a Cause began as an Animal Assisted Therapy program of “Friends of Animals Utah”, an animal rescue group located in Summit County, Utah in 2010. An increasing demand for Veteran assistance programs to help support Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Military Sexual Trauma (MTS), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) lead CWAC to expand and become an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2011. The mission was specific, to rescue appropriate shelter dogs and train them for assistance work with qualified Veterans. CWAC provides free training classes for Veterans, enabling them to develop skills needed to train their own dogs and become experienced handlers. CWAC dogs can provide Veterans with many benefits: simple companionship, motivation to get out of bed in the morning, assistance with anxiety/triggers, sleep improvement, unconditional and non judgmental love. All our training is positive reinforcement and science based. Our goal is to create a healing bond through the training process. This program is flexible to fit our client’s needs however, we also have specific commitment expectations from our clients to ensure safety and success. Services are free for our clients; however, they are expected to financially care for their dog. Service dog training can take several years to complete (clients must have 300-400 hours of training) and the curriculum uses smaller milestones to reach our ultimate goal.
CWAC and the Department of Corrections in Utah joined forces in March of 2014 to create a prison-based dog training program in the Utah State Prison-Timpanogas. Dogs were rescued from local shelters and trained by incarcerated women under the guidance of CWAC trainers.
The Northern Nevada program started in December of 2017 as a partnership between Pet Network Humane Society in Incline Village, NV and CWAC. Dogs were selected from Pet Network and paired with inmates at the Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City, NV. The Reno program is unique in that all of the inmates selected to be trainers are also veterans. The incarcerated veterans not only learn how
to train a dog, they also learn new skills in dog handling, effective communication, peaceful problem-solving skills, conflict resolution and teamwork.
The Canines With a Cause (CWAC) Idaho program began with our prison-based training program at The Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino. Dogs were rescued from local shelters and placed in the P.A.W.S programs at the prison with experienced dog trainers/offenders. The number of Veterans in Idaho and the need for well-trainer service dogs was apparent. CWAC now partners with trainers in the Boise and Coeur d’Alene areas servicing the Boise and Spokane VA Hospitals. Dogs are rescued from shelters in Idaho areas and trained in the ICI-Orofino program.


Veteran Service Dog

This program is focused on helping veterans with PTSD/TBI regain the confidence to navigate life’s daily tasks. Eligible participants can begin the process by contacting us at info@canineswithacause.org. Participants will go through an interview, orientation and foundation classes to learn about our program and way of training. 

Veteran Alternative Path

Not all veterans require a dog that has as much training as the dogs in the Pawsitive Healing for Veterans program. The Alternative Path program places dogs that we’ve evaluated and rescued from a shelter with a veteran who immediately starts working with us to train the dog for their specific needs. Participants in this program come to weekly trainings with their companion where they learn how to train the dog using positive reinforcement. These dogs give the veterans comfort, security and love, and the veterans do the same for the dogs.


If a dog that we’ve rescued is not suitable for our program, we adopt them out to the public. We never give a dog back to a shelter—these dogs are our “Diamonds in the Ruff.” Our dogs are health, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and assessed for proper behavior. Some of them have also received basic training with our trainers.

We do our best to make sure the dog will fit in their new home and all parties will benefit from the relationship. We do require a foster period before adoptions are final, and ask that the dog be returned to CWAC if the dog can no longer stay with the adopters.


In this program, we partner with the Utah State Prison Women’s Correctional Facility, Warm Springs Correctional Center in Nevada and Idaho State Correctional Institution. After the inmates go through training with our staff, our dogs move into the prison and are trained in basic obedience tasks by the inmates. This is great for the dogs, who receive round the clock attention and training. The inmates benefit from this positive interaction and are able to give back to the community. Once the dogs have completed their training, they are placed with a veteran.