History

Paintings of Dogs for Better Lives’ first dogs in each respective program (L-R), Autism Assistance Dog (Ian), Program Assistance Dog (Nelson), and Hearing Dog (Jeremiah). Artist, Kaitlin Robinson, Kait’s Calling

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

DFD Founder Roy Kabat with Jeremiah

DBL Founder Roy Kabat with Jeremiah

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.


Original Dogs for the Deaf’s office and training facility in southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley.

Certified Dog Trainer Jess with a Hearing Assistance Dog in training, at the Memorial Garden at Dogs for Better Lives.

Students spending quality time with Program Assistance Dog Hilton in Ashland, Oregon.

Client spending time with their Hearing Assistance Dog, formerly a rescued dog who went through 5 months of training at Dogs for Better Lives.

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