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PetSmart Charities Grant Enables Facility Dog Provider to Expand its Program


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PetSmart Charities gave a $300,000 grant to Canine Companions for Independence, a facility dog provider. 

The grant is designed to help Canine Companions provide assistance dogs to six facilities across the U. S. through its renowned Facility Dog program, which pairs expertly trained dogs with professionals working in rehabilitation, healthcare, education and courtroom settings. In these environments, facility dogs perform a variety of services for clients, such as helping students to focus in class, or providing support to a patient in a medical or psychiatric rehabilitation program. The six facility dogs are expected to impact hundreds of clients’ lives each week and more than 40,000 individuals per year.

Canine Companions assistance dogs, including facility dogs, learn more than 40 commands to help enhance independence for children, veterans and adults with disabilities. Assistance dogs can retrieve dropped items, open doors, turn on lights and more. Facility dogs utilize these commands in a variety of therapeutic ways, such as improving balance in a physical therapy session by gently tugging on a toy, helping with fine and gross motor skills by retrieving and returning items to clients, and providing a calm and non-judgmental presence for practicing speech therapies.

Currently, the Facility Dog program supports 324 active dog-handler teams, which serve about 8-10 years. The PetSmart Charities grant will allow this program to expand with six more dog-handler teams to serve 40,000 more individuals per year. Collectively, the overall Facility Dog program directly impacts the lives of more than 16,000 individuals weekly, or more than 800,000 individuals each year.

“Since 1975, Canine Companions has strived to provide clients the support and comfort they need to live an independent life through our Facility Dog program,” said Paul Mundell, CEO of Canine Companions. “We appreciate that PetSmart Charities shares our belief in the partnership between pets and people, and we’re grateful for this generous grant that will allow us to expand the work that we do that improves the quality of life for so many people.”

The $300,000 grant from PetSmart Charities will be distributed over the next three years to enable the Canine Companions team to raise, train and place six facility dogs in regions across the U.S. within hospitals, health care centers, rehabilitation centers, educational settings or courthouses. As the first and largest, certified organization that trains and places highly skilled dogs in facilities, Canine Companions’ Facility Dog program has a waiting list of more than 50 facility dog handlers, who have undergone an intensive application and interview process, and are waiting to be paired up with the highly trained facility dog so together they can provide support and assistance for clients within a large organization.

“As an organization that believes in the power of pets, we are thrilled to support the work Canine Companions for Independence is doing to enhance the lives of people through its Facility Dog Program,” said David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., and president of PetSmart Charities. “With the help of our grant, this well-established program can continue to expand its reach to meet the increasing need for the life-changing service that facility dogs can provide to individuals with disabilities or illnesses.”

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