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Davis Journal

Non-profit organization lends a helping paw

May 02, 2024 09:11AM ● By Shania Emmett
Service Paws, the nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping and training dogs to become pivotal helping guides. Photo Courtesy Megan Smock

Service Paws, the nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping and training dogs to become pivotal helping guides. Photo Courtesy Megan Smock

Usually, when people see others walking their dogs, they are bound to see a service dog amongst the dog walkers. Service dogs can be an important part of helping people with disabilities. But not many consider exactly how a dog is trained to be a service dog. That’s where organizations like Service Paws come in. They are a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping and training dogs to become the pivotal helping guides.

Their board members consist of Mitch Christiansen, the founder and CEO, Megan Smock, their head secretary, Shannon Parthenopaues their social media expert, Christi Christiansen co-founder, and dog trainer, Krista Smith who works as their Client Advocate and Cameron Smith who runs Veteran Outreach.

Service Paws not only help pair people with service dogs, but they also help individuals with training the dogs they already have.

“Service Paws assists low-income individuals, veterans, and first responders (police, firefighters, and paramedics) with their service dogs to live more fulfilling lives. Furthermore, we try to find rescue dogs for individuals to become their service dog. Service Paws can assist those who need a service dog for mobility, seizure response, PTSD/TBI, psychiatric, diabetic, cardiac, and autism.”

Those who work at Service Paws have come away with several valuable lessons from their time at the organization, from learning patience with themselves and the dogs to learning how to run the organization in general. 

“We have definitely grown and changed over the last couple of years making improvements,” said Megan Smock, Service Paws head secretary. “We have learned some valuable lessons that would have helped us have a better start, such as setting up boundaries, systems, communication, and contracts.” 

Service Paws offers a variety of programs to help all different kinds of people. From its Veteran Program where they help pair up service dogs with military veterans, to the different events Serve Paws holds. They teach the community about service dogs and encourage them to find out what service dogs can do and help people who already have service dogs with additional training if needed and provide any help they can.

“I love watching people grow within the organization, see them gain their freedom and independence and bond with their service dogs,” said Smock. “It feels like I’m literally witnessing miracles.” 

For those who want to help train service dogs or if they want to get one themselves they need to practice patience with not only themselves but the dog as well. Also, make sure to know what to look for when training a service dog, from the different behaviors exhibited by the dog to the general environment the service dog has to get used to in order to help their owner in any of their day-to-day needs. 

“Every dog is different and their personalities can change over time,” said Smock. “Some start out great and decline or vice versa. There are a lot of factors that go into what might make a dog difficult. But we always give them a fair chance to prove themselves.”

Service Paws is located at 1216 W. 1200 North in Layton. For more information visit