The first two service dogs to graduate from our From Shelter to Service Dog program with Dogs for Better Lives are ready for their new roles! The partnership between Operation Kindness and Dogs for Better Lives is designed to transform the lives of shelter dogs and provide them with a second chance as life-changing service dogs.
Meet the graduates
One of the program’s first success stories, a Facility Dog named Walker, was placed with his client earlier this month. Walker, originally an owner surrender to our shelter, underwent specialized training with DBL to become a Facility Dog. He will now work alongside a school counselor, offering support to at-risk elementary age students.
Another success story is a Hearing Assistance Dog named Annie, who is gearing up for her placement scheduled in late February. Annie’s journey began when she was transferred to us from another animal shelter. After being adopted and living in a home for seven months, Annie faced challenges due to her high energy and was returned to the shelter. Thanks to the From Shelter to Service Dog program, Annie has been trained to alert her handler to various sounds in their home, including smoke alarms, kitchen timers and phone calls.
How the program works
During their time in professional training, both dogs resided in foster homes with our foster volunteers who worked closely with an Assistance Dog Trainer from DBL. This approach not only facilitated their training, but also allowed them to avoid the stress shelter dogs often experience in kennels. “Living in a home environment instead of a kennel allows the dogs to focus their energy fully on their training,” said DBL Assistance Dog Trainer, Melissa. “The Operation Kindness fosters were instrumental in setting these dogs up for their successful training at DBL.”
Through the program, DBL staff identify shelter dogs with the right temperament and skills to become Service Dogs, and Dogs for Better Lives provides specialized training to transform them into Hearing Assistance Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs, or Facility Dogs. Our foster homes provide a safe and loving home during their training and up until their placement with a client.
“Operation Kindness’ mission is to make the world a kinder place for pets and the people who love them,” said Ed Jamison, our CEO of Operation Kindness. “The Dogs for Better Lives program exemplifies this by giving dogs a second chance at life in a way that betters our community at the same time. Operation Kindness is proud to utilize our thriving foster program to provide loving homes for these dogs on their service journey.”
The successful placements of Walker and Annie mark a significant milestone for the From Shelter to Service Dog program, showcasing the potential for positive transformation in the lives of both dogs and their future clients.
To become a foster volunteer with Operation Kindness, visit www.operationkindness.org/foster.