PHOENIX & SANTA ROSA, Calif.–Facility dog provider, Canine Companions for Independence, today announced its receipt of a $300,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America.
The grant is designed to help Canine Companions provide assistance dogs to six facilities across the U. S. through its renowned Facility Dog program, which pairs expertly trained dogs with professionals working in rehabilitation, healthcare, education and courtroom settings. In these environments, facility dogs perform a variety of services for clients, such as helping students to focus in class, or providing support to a patient in a medical or psychiatric rehabilitation program. The six facility dogs are expected to impact hundreds of clients’ lives each week and more than 40,000 individuals per year.
Canine Companions assistance dogs, including facility dogs, learn more than 40 commands to help enhance independence for children, veterans and adults with disabilities. Assistance dogs can retrieve dropped items, open doors, turn on lights and more. Facility dogs utilize these commands in a variety of therapeutic ways, such as improving balance in a physical therapy session by gently tugging on a toy, helping with fine and gross motor skills by retrieving and returning items to clients, and providing a calm and non-judgmental presence for practicing speech therapies.
For example, Canine Companions Facility Dog Igor’s job is to encourage and motivate children during physical therapy sessions.
“They have such a great time interacting with Igor that they often do not even realize how hard they are working. They are working on walking, increasing their balance and soon they are running with Igor trying to keep up,” says physical therapist and handler Teresa Keathley. “Igor helps motivate children to perform activities that are challenging in a way that is non-threatening and comfortable for them. He also helps to calm children when they are experiencing pain or fear.”
Currently, the Facility Dog program supports 324 active dog-handler teams, which serve about 8-10 years. The PetSmart Charities grant will allow this program to expand with six more dog-handler teams to serve 40,000 more individuals per year. Collectively, the overall Facility Dog program directly impacts the lives of more than 16,000 individuals weekly, or more than 800,000 individuals each year.
“Since 1975, Canine Companions has strived to provide clients the support and comfort they need to live an independent life through our Facility Dog program,” said Paul Mundell, CEO of Canine Companions. “We appreciate that PetSmart Charities shares our belief in the partnership between pets and people, and we’re grateful for this generous grant that will allow us to expand the work that we do that improves the quality of life for so many people.”
The $300,000 grant from PetSmart Charities will be distributed over the next three years to enable the Canine Companions team to raise, train and place six facility dogs in regions across the U.S. within hospitals, health care centers, rehabilitation centers, educational settings, or courthouses. As the first and largest, certified organization that trains and places highly skilled dogs in facilities, Canine Companions’ Facility Dog program has a waiting list of more than 50 facility dog handlers, who have undergone an intensive application and interview process, and are waiting to be paired up with the highly trained facility dog so together they can provide support and assistance for clients within a large organization.
“As an organization that believes in the power of pets, we are thrilled to support the work Canine Companions for Independence is doing to enhance the lives of people through its Facility Dog Program,” said David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., and president of PetSmart Charities. “With the help of our grant, this well-established program can continue to expand its reach to meet the increasing need for the life-changing service that facility dogs can provide to individuals with disabilities or illnesses.”
PetSmart Charities recently expanded its mission to include finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. This new mission allows the organization to support animal welfare programs in more ways than ever before, and even reach other nonprofits, like Canine Companions, that help connect people and pets. The new Enhancing the Quality of Life Through Pets grant category, open year-round for applications, supports programs that train pets to become service animals for military veterans, people with disabilities and other in-need populations, and provides funding for pet therapy programs at hospitals, schools, and senior homes and more.
About Canine Companions for Independence®
Canine Companions for Independence provides highly trained assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities. Established in 1975, Canine Companions has six training centers across the country, including CA, FL, OH, NY and TX. Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. There is no charge to recipients for the dog, its training and ongoing follow-up services. For more information, call 1-800-572-BARK or visit canine.org.
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About PetSmart Charities®
PetSmart Charities, Inc. is a nonprofit animal welfare organization with a mission to find lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. In addition to finding homes for almost 500,000 shelter pets each year through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities provides funding to nonprofits aligned with its mission through four key areas of grant support: Preventing Pet Homelessness; Helping Shelter Pets Thrive; Supporting the Bond Between People and Pets; and Emergency Relief and Disaster Support. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the pin pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses 90 cents of every dollar donated and has become the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, donating about $300 million to date. PetSmart Charities, a 501(c)(3) organization, has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, an independent organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 14 years in a row — placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization. To learn more visit www.petsmartcharities.org
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For PetSmart, Inc.
Virginia Hock, 469-680-2611
PetSmart Media Line
Article credit: BusinessWire