Animals

Rescue Dogs Rescue Young People With Special Needs

Local non-profit rescues shelter dogs and trains them to be service dogs for young people with mobility issues


What do you get when you have a dog desperate to be rescued from a shelter, and a teenager with a disability who needs some rescuing too? You get Canine Service Pals based at Parkway Kennels Training Center in Moon. Founded in 2017, the non-profit rescues dogs from the Beaver County Humane Society, and trains them to be service dogs for teens and young adults with mobility issues -- saving the dogs and the kids! Sparked got a chance to watch the magic happen:

So far Canine Service Pals has placed three dogs, all of which are named after foods as a lighthearted twist. Reeses Cup or "Reesie" for short is a shepherd mix. She's a bigger dog which works for Logan McGinnis, who has physical and mental disabilities from injuries in a childhood car accident. Reesie can help Logan walk, and get back up if he falls. She even helped him achieve his dream of walking by himself at Armstrong High School Graduation this past June.

Cannoli will be going home soon with Paige Behanna of Charleroi. Cannoli is a retriever, the only purebred of the bunch. She'll help Paige, who has cerebral palsy, get around, and "retrieve" things like her cell phone, water bottle, or arm crutches. Cannoli and Paige were invited to throw out the first pitch at a Pirates game in July (see photo above).

Raisin is a lab-puggle mix which makes her a perfect fit for Sydney Campbell of Mercer County. Sydney has bone tumors that make it hard to get around. Raisin has not only helped with mobility, but given Sydney the confidence to go out in public. "I feel protected when I'm with her," said Sydney.

Waiting in the wings to be trained and placed are dogs like Licorice, Klondike and Flapjack, with a waiting list of young people who need them. At a cost of about $20,000 to train a dog, Canine Service Pals can only place as many dogs as they have money to train.

"There's no shortage of dogs that need help or kids that need help." Dan Gratchen, Dog Trainer

Find out more about Canine Service Pals at their website , including how to support the group financially, how to volunteer as a "puppy raiser" foster family while the dogs are in training, and how to donate in-kind items like dog food and training equipment.

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