Local Assistance Dogs program in need of help

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Sylvania (WTVG) - Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence is a program of The Ability Center. Service and therapy dogs are trained through the program, and then paired up with people who need them. The waiting list for the dogs is growing, and so is the need for people to help train the the dogs.

Every year they train dozens of service and therapy dogs, however ADAI just lost an important component of that training. Inmates at the Toledo Correctional Institution are no longer helping train the dogs,
So more foster families are need to help fill the gap.

This adorable pack of puppies has already started the journey of becoming service or therapy dogs. Anna Jones is the K9 Services Manager,"We have anywhere between 50-60 dogs in our program every year. They range in age from about 8 weeks to two years. We have our own breeding program, and that's where most of our dogs come from."

The work they are trained to do is life-changing for the people they help. Everything from turning on lights to retrieving the phone and picking up dropped items to opening doors. Jones says many of the dogs are trained by foster families,"The fosters get a chance to make a difference in the world and live with a puppy which is an endless source of joy. You bring those two things together, and what a wonderful experience it can be."

Until last November, others were trained by inmates at the Toledo Correctional Institution. But Jones says a change in the security level at the prison and the inmates housed there meant an end to the program, "The guys we worked with were there for extended periods of time. That consistency was very important. The inmates were able to work with our staff to train the dogs for years. All the inmates we worked with have been moved to other prisons because of the security level change. We now have a big gap without that program, it's been quite the loss."

One of the dogs trained through the prison program is Franklin.
Franklin is a true lifeline for Susan Maziarz. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1982, "If you are sad or something is going on with you, even if it's the first time he's met you he will come up to try to make you feel better."

He also helps Susan with daily life, "He can gets things out of the fridge for me he does my laundry. He gets things out of the washer and puts them in the dryer. He likes to slam the door because he likes the sound. Also, when the door closed he knows that when he gets a treat."

The hope is that more people will step up to make more dogs like Franklin available to the people who need them. If you can't open your home to train one of the dogs, there's another fun way to help the program. Dealin' For Dogs is Saturday at Owens Community College on Oregon Road in Perrysburg. The event features food, fun, music and casino-style gambling. It runs from 6:30-10pm. 13abc's Lissa Guyton is the emcee.

We've posted a link to buy tickets and to learn more about how you can help ADAI.