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The Ability Center in need of puppy raisers and fosters

The Assistance Dog Program has helped change thousands of lives through the work of its service and therapy dogs.
Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - If you love dogs, and want to be a big part of changing the world for someone, there’s a great volunteer opportunity available in the Toledo area for you. The Assistance Dog Program at The Ability Center has helped change thousands of lives through the years. The organization is looking for volunteers to continue that important work. That work involves training puppies in basic obedience and manners as a so-called puppy raiser.

“It’s such a wonderful experience to see how you take a puppy and train them to do amazing things,” says Karen Bade, who has been a volunteer for more than twenty years and helped to train more than a dozen dogs. “The support of the staff through the training is incredible. You then get to watch them change lives once they graduate.”

Letting the dogs go on to the next chapter isn’t easy, but Karen says the reward of seeing your work help someone makes up for it.

“I just dropped one off this morning and it is always tough,” she says. “However, when you go to graduation and meet the person they will help, it is worth it in the long run.”

Karen has trained both service and school therapy dogs. She’s a teacher, so she’s been able to see the incredible power of the dogs at work firsthand.

“You will have a student who is anxious or upset and they won’t want to talk to anyone,” says Karen. “The dog comes in, and it’s a whole other story.”

Stories like that aren’t possible without volunteers like Karen. Both fosters and puppy raisers are needed. The puppy raisers have the dogs for about 10 weeks. The fosters can have them for up to two years. There are opportunities for people in all stages of life.

“People who are retired, people with young kids, people looking for ways to help others in the community,” explains Mallory Crooks, the Public Relations Manager at The Ability Center. “There is no cookie-cutter format when it comes to our volunteers because we are flexible in our approach.”

Finding new volunteers is a constant process because, at any given time, there are about 50 dogs in training.

“We have our own breeding program, and we are also involved in a breeding collaborative,” says Crooks. “So the puppies never stop coming, we always have the need.” Helping fill that need may be one of the best things you ever do.

Call (419) 885-5733 or click on the link above to learn more about how you can get involved with the program.

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