You can help train local assistance dogs - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

You can help train local assistance dogs

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    Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence has paired hundreds of dogs and people with disabilities in recent years.It takes about two years and $20,000 to train each of the dogs. There's an easy way you can help raise money for the program.It's a 5k race and a one mile walk called The Race for Wags and Wheels.Jenny Barlos is the Client Services Director,"It is $30 to register and all the money comes back to our program. What do you use the money for? To place additional service and therapy...
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An organization that's helped hundreds of people with disabilities in recent years needs your help. Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence has been pairing up people and service dogs for decades. They're now in need of volunteers and people to help foster the dogs. It takes about two years and about $20,000 to train each dog. The dogs spend some of that time with foster families and then the last few months before they're paired up with a person, are spent at the training center.

From opening the dryer to closing doors it is all in a days work for the dogs. Jenny Barlos says retrieving is the dogs number one job, "Picking up keys, or remote controls, credit cards, items of clothing. They can also get help in case of an emergency by barking to draw attention to the person or to get the attention of somebody in the home if they've fallen."

It all starts at an early age.The dogs can come in to the program as young as 8 weeks old and if you think there seem to be a lot of Labs, there's a reason for that. Training Coordinator Kali Makula says they focus on several breeds and mixes of those breeds, "The primary breeds we generally use are Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. They have a great temperament, they are good with people, they like to learn and they obviously like to retrieve."

Most of the dogs come from breeders however, they do work hard to also save shelter dogs, like Seger. Makula says in just the last 18 months, 8 shelter dogs have graduated from the program, "We're always looking at shelters and working with rescue groups. We have very strict criteria the dogs have to meet but if they pass that criteria they make great dogs for us as well."

Although it takes years of training to get these dogs ready for work, you don't have to be an expert to get involved, "Even if you don't have dog training experience we provide that. We are just looking for people who are willing to learn and are interested in our mission."

ADAI is getting help with that mission from Kentucky. They're currently working with University of Kentucky students who train dogs for the first year and then they're sent to Toledo for ADAI to finish their training. Even though it costs about $20,000 to train each dog that cost is not passed on to the person who gets the dog. All they pay for is several hundred dollars worth of equipment and application expenses.

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