There are many dogs sitting in shelters around the world waiting for their furever home. Some people shy away from these dogs believing that they have behavioral issues. That’s why a number of groups across North America are working to change this perception by training them to become service dogs.
Often, service dogs come out of specialized breeding programs (think of many of the dogs used to assist blind people) however that isn’t always the case. There are many wonderful dogs in shelters that can make excellent service dogs for people with autism, PTSD, epilepsy and more.
One such program Elite K9 Service has the motto “Rescuing One Soul to Save Another“; all their service dogs come from local shelters and are trained for over 17,000 hours to meet the needs of the client. Interestingly, (unlike many programs) the client is involved in the training process to ensure a solid bond is built between the dog and the client.
You can read about some of the dogs they have trained here.
There are also an number of programs based out of prisons that work to train shelter dogs for service. The Cell Dogs Training Program also uses shelter dogs for their four programs. Dogs live with the inmates 24/7 and are responsible for attending training sessions, grooming, and of course practicing the many skills needed in a service or therapy dog. Not only do the adoptive families and dogs benefit but the trainers as well who gained self-confidence, job skills, and more.
Programs like these show that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to shelter dogs!