Emotional support animals have become increasingly recognized for their ability to provide comfort and assistance to individuals dealing with stress and anxiety.
Forest Hills Public Schools has recently introduced an emotional support dog to its Ada Vista Elementary School community. A special recognition ceremony last week honored the program’s generous donors and celebrated the positive impact that a Golden Retriever named Jersey is sure to have on its community.
The specially-trained emotional support dog will play a vital role in fostering a supportive and inclusive environment at Ada Vista according to a spokesperson for the school district.
While these well trained emotional support dogs are helping out school kids, there are other dogs destined for an even headier task: leading the blind (and others with disabilities). And the operation that trains them, Paws With A Cause, known simply as PAWS, is asking the community for assistance.
“Do you have extra love to give?” Asks a newsletter that’s circulating. Flexible commitment options are available for people to volunteer and to foster puppies for PAWS.
The PAWS mission is to enhance the independence and quality of life for people with disabilities through custom-trained assistance dogs. This all begins with volunteer foster homes raising the puppy and providing basic care and obedience training for the first year of the puppy’s life. Puppies are typically placed in a single home for 14-15 months, but with the new Co-Raising and Start/Finish options, people can host a puppy for a shorter amount of time or during a specific time of year that works for them.
“We know the commitment to foster a PAWS puppy can be complicated with traveling, work, school, or whatever else people have going on in their life.” Said Julie Thorington, National Foster Puppy Coordinator at Paws With A Cause. “We hope that giving the option to foster for six months instead of a year or alternating weeks with a Co-raiser can help. We want this opportunity to be available to those who have been interested in the past but aren’t able to foster year-round.”
Locally, PAWS is located at 4646 Division Ave S, in Wayland. PAWS Foster Puppy Raiser Sara Pfeiffer shared, “We decided to raise a foster puppy because my kids love dogs and we wanted to do something to help others. We got a beautiful golden retriever puppy named ZOOM. It was a great learning experience for all of us. The PAWS puppy trainer and vet staff were there for any questions and concerns we had along the way. We felt very supported and celebrated as volunteers. We also met so many wonderful people involved with PAWS. It’s an organization that truly changes lives and we are so happy to be part of it.”
More information about PAWS and the Foster Puppy Raiser Application can be found on the PAWS website.