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Paws With A Cause Calls For Puppy Raisers

Mariano Avila

About a half a dozen black lab puppies climb on a plastic truck at the Paws With A Cause Training facility in Wayland, Michigan--like most puppy would. But these aren’t ordinary puppies though, from the moment they are born, they are in a program to become service dogs. Deb Davis, Community Outreach Manager for Paws says each puppy goes through medical care and evaluation once it comes in for the breeder and then requires a volunteer to take them in. 

“That volunteer raiser makes a commitment to love, raise, nurture and train that puppy for the next 12-14 months of their life."

Davis says this year Paws is looking for between 20 and 30 volunteers to raise these future assistance dogs.

“We have a critical need now with so many service dogs coming in and we do need those foster raisers now toward the end of the year.”

Volunteers need no special training, and Paws has a program to follow along the way, Davis says.

“We are with them all the way. They come to classes either here in West Michigan or in Saginaw, South East Michigan, Lansing, Ann Arbor, or Chicago area. We have classes on a weekly basis so we can teach the raisers to teach their dog.”

It costs Paws with a Cause nearly $30,000 to train a service dog. Each dog is custom trained to assist with a specific client’s disabilities and then retrained as the client’s needs change or new ones are discovered. But here’s the rub, clients don’t pay a penny for either the dog or any of the support Paws provides over the years, which is why they rely so heavily Sniffing out good community volunteers. Interested volunteers can visit www.pawswithacause.org for more information.

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.