Canine Companions for Independence is seeking volunteers to help raise puppies to become loyal service dogs. The non-profit, based in Santa Rosa, was able to provide 367 people with free service dogs last year. They have another 482 people on their waiting list, however, and need some help getting the puppies ready for their jobs. The organization has been around since 1975 and seeks to offer free service dogs to those who need them. These dogs assist people with a wide range of disabilities from adults to children.
The puppies will go on to work in one of the four categories broken down by Canine Companions: “Service Dogs – assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks. Hearing Dogs – alert the deaf and hard of hearing to important sounds. Skilled Companions – enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities. Facility Dogs – work with a professional in a visitation, education or healthcare setting.”
The puppies are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers or mixes of both breeds. They are bred and raised to have outstanding temperaments and health to make them suitable assistance dogs. Volunteers will receive puppies that are 8-weeks-old and raise them until they are about 18-months-old. The volunteer puppy raisers are required to provide food, supplies, veterinary care and other dog-related expenses. Volunteers will send regular reports on the puppy’s health and temperament throughout the raising process so that Canine Companions can determine the best roles for them when they go on to be assistance dogs.
The organization’s San Diego County team is seeking these volunteers and those living locally will be able to attend regular obedience classes with their puppies. The Canine Companions for Independence Southwest Training Center is on the Dean, Gerda and Trixie Koontz Campus, 124 Rancho del Oro Drive in Oceanside. For more information about becoming a volunteer, visit their website: Become A Volunteer Puppy Raiser