How it Works

A family either reaches out or is referred to POP.

A phone interview is conducted to ensure this is the right fit for the family, both timing wise and health wise for the child. The POP team then places the family on a list with open dates. A vetted breeder contacts POP once a litter of puppies becomes available. The POP experience is confirmed and the breeder, POP staff & family either meet at the family’s home or the breeder’s house depending on the arrangement.

Get in touch with us

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q:   Is the POP experience at no cost to families?
  • Yes, POP is at no cost to all families who have a child or children with health challenges.

  • Q:   How do we apply to Pile of Puppies & who qualifies?
  • Majority of our POP experiences are from referrals from Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Candlelighters, Ronald McDonald House and Providence Hospital. We have a few slots open for people who hear about us through other outlets, though in order to keep a smooth process we mostly work with our partners.

    If you live in the Portland Metro area (Oregon) please message us at or shoot us an email at In the subject please state “Family interest”. Once we receive your email we will set up a phone interview to assess if your family qualifies.

    Families who have children ages 2-20 years of age who have a physical health challenge may apply (i.e. born with a disability, has a chronic illness or is terminally ill)

    POP is a very small organization so, please know that emails may not be responded to right away. For the safety of the puppies (also a vulnerable population), not all households will be eligible for puppy visits.

  • Q:   How long is the waiting list to receive a POP?
  • It depends on when puppies are born and how many people are on the waiting list before you. Breeders typically only have 1-3 litters a year and they typically only socialize their puppies between 5-12 weeks. Therefore, there are times where there will be no puppies available, but we will do our best to reach as many children as we can.

  • Q:   Do we get to choose what breed of puppy?
  • No. It would be extremely difficult to coordinate specific breed visit requests.

  • Q:   Are the puppies for sale?
  • It all depends on the breeder. Some breeders may have a long waiting list, others might have availability.

  • Q:   Why do you use breeders when there are so many puppies at the Humane Society?
  • We use breeders because we are working with a sensitive population who have health risks and lower immune systems. We must know where the puppies have come from and know that the puppies are also healthy. It is important to POP that we site visit responsible breeders to verify they living conditions of the pups.

    The humane society states, “You don’t want to buy a puppy from a pet store or a website. Most of those puppies come from mass breeding facilities—better known as puppy mills. If you’ve decided to buy a dog from a breeder, you’ll want to support one who has their dogs’ best interests at heart.”  We stick to their guidelines when interviewing responsible dog breeders.” Link from quote:

  • Q:   How do I volunteer?
  • If you are a breeder or want to volunteer for POP and live in Oregon, please go to our “Get in Touch” page and send in your volunteer application.

  • Q:   Do all families who apply for a Pile of Puppies experience receive a Pile of Puppies?
  • No, there are some families that will not receive a POP due to our liability insurance and safety needs of the puppies. Each family must have a phone interview. Some situations and some health condition are not acceptable for the POP program due to safety concerns for the puppies.

  • Q:   For Breeders: What does POP do to help ensure the house is safe for the puppies to visit?
  • We interview all families prior to adding them to our wait list. There are restrictions and safety precautions taken if there is a dog in the house. A breeder will decide what they are and are not comfortable with. Every participant will always have clean clothes, no shoes, freshly washed hands & face. No animals in the area where the exercise pen is located (and for a few breeders it must be a “dog free” house).

  • Q:   As a family: How does POP select breeders?
  • We have a network of responsible breeders who refer other responsible breeders. We do an extensive phone interview with all breeders. We also conduct site visits to confirm the dogs live in a happy environment and to confirm there are no puppy mills in our program.

  • Q:   Does POP come to houses without health challenged kids? Could we have a team building event with POP at work?
  • Yes, this is a small part of how we fundraise. Though this opportunity is rare, as we keep majority of our POP’s for our POP families.

    If you are interested in having Pile of Puppies attend your business (i.e. team building event) or a family who would enjoy the POP experience, please send us an email: with the subject “Fundraiser POP”.  We provide a very limited number of paid POP visits for fundraising which allows for chronically and terminally ill children to receive their POP visit at no cost.

  • Q:   Are you national or only located in Portland, Oregon?
  • Currently, we are only in Portland, Oregon. In the future we hope to expand nationally.