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New foster puppy program to help PAWS meet service dog demand

Courtesy: PAWS With a Cause
PAWS With a Cause

The demand for service dogs keeps growing and a local group can’t get enough puppy raisers to meet it, so they’re trying something new

PAWS With a Cause is based in Wayland and trains assistance dogs to improve independence and quality of life for people with disabilities. Sidney Baxter, PAWS Communications Manager, says the need for service dogs is growing especially after COVID but it’s hard to place enough puppies to keep up.

“We have a demand that is higher than we can serve each year. We get hundreds of applications.”

The first step starts with a puppy going home with a volunteer.

“The provide basic obedience skills and just a loving home for the puppy.”

Fostering a puppy lasts 14-15 months, a big commitment many people can’t make. So PAWS is trying two new options. First: co-raising.

“It's just doing it with a friend so you can either alternate weeks or months, do weekends or weekdays. It's kind of up to you to decide your schedule.”

The second option is called start-or-finish which allows volunteers to split up that 15 months. Baxter says it’s a popular idea with students and retirees who head south for the winter. It also allows volunteers to choose the stage of a puppy’s life they prefer.

“Potty training and crate training are not everyone’s favorite thing, so this gives you the option to skip that stage.”

They hope the flexibility and shorter commitment times will encourage more people to help.

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