Hey Miami Valley! I have a really exciting announcement to make! I just couldn’t wait any longer to share the news. I am getting a dog! Well, sort of! Let me explain. River Valley has three local charity partners for the year and one of them is 4 Paws for Ability. Here is the exciting part: River Valley is going to sponsor two 4 Paws dogs and I am going to sponsor another! This means we get to help three dogs with their training to potentially be placed with a family or veteran who may need a service dog. If our dogs make the cut we get to go to graduation and meet the families. I am beyond thrilled to be helping with such an amazing cause and thought it would be great to have a blog post dedicated to telling everyone a little more about this wonderful organization.
What is 4 Paws for Ability?
- This non-profit organization is based out of Xenia and provides fully trained service dogs to children with disabilities and veterans who have lost limbs or their hearing or who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. While the organization is based out of the Dayton area, it places dogs to people in need worldwide.
How did they start?
- 4 Paws was founded in 1998 by Karen Shirk after her efforts to obtain a service dog through traditional placement agencies were unsuccessful. The agencies deemed her too disabled to receive a service dog, as she often used a ventilator. Karen found her own dog and did the training herself, which lead to the creation of 4 Paws for Ability. It was her dream to have an organization where anyone who needed a service dog could receive one, no matter the severity of their disability. Today, the organization places approximately 100 service dogs per year and is the largest organization whose primary goal is to place service dogs with children. They are one of the only organizations in the country to have no minimum age requirements.
What kind of dogs do they train?
- They train a wide variety of service dogs. Their dogs are trained to be hearing ear dogs and to provide autism assistance, mobility assistance, seizure alert, diabetic alert, and fetal alcohol/drug exposure assistance. They are also trained as facilitated guide dogs as well as veteran assistance dogs. In addition, the organization can provide a multipurpose assistance dog if someone in need doesn’t fit into one of the specified categories.
What breed of dogs do they use?
- They use Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Labs, Golden Doodles, Papillons and Newfoundland Retrievers as service dogs.
This sounds like an amazing organization! How can I help?
- There are a lot of different ways to help! You could simply donate money to the organization to help cover the costs of the organization. You could also volunteer at the facility in Xenia and help groom, socialize and exercise the dogs. (Volunteer here) You could sponsor a service dog in training as I am or sponsor an entire family! They also hold plenty of fundraising events around the Dayton area; keep an eye on them here. Finally, you could foster a dog. That seems like a lot of fun!
I am so excited to learn more about the dog I am sponsoring. Be sure to look for a lot of updates on him/her! I hope you will join me and the River Valley team members in volunteering as we try to make a difference in the community. For more information on 4 Paws for Ability visit their website here.