Grant #526

Service Dog Training and Certification

March 13, 2023

Atlas Assistance Dogs Is Expanding PAW-ssibilities in Service-Dog Training

Service dogs can be life-saving companions, but well-trained pups don’t come cheap! On average, costs range from $15,000 to $50,000—and that doesn’t include the regular fees and expenses associated with having a dog. 

In Washington State, Mike Kolar and his daughter, Jennifer—both of whom have disabilities and their own service dogs—knew that the costs were keeping service animals out of reach for people who needed them. So the pair co-founded Atlas Assistance Dogs, which works to democratize access to service dogs  and service-dog training. “We challenge traditional assumptions about who can train service dogs, how dogs should be trained, and what dogs and people can accomplish together,” Mike explains. “Many people, including many in the service-dog world, believe that people with disabilities can’t train their own service dog. Our clients are helping to show that they can!” 

Atlas consults with clients nationwide to create customized training plans, helping dogs and clients learn how to communicate in distracting public environments. Mike stresses that Atlas uses positive, ethical, fear-free training methods and emphasizes respect and kindness for both people and pets.  

Our grant will go toward training support for Atlas’s dogs, including all-important (and delicious) treats. We’re glad to help them keep up the PAWsome work.

Category: Accessibility, Activism, Animals, Empowerment



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

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