VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) – The coronavirus pandemic has made travel difficult not only for humans, but now even service animals are stricted in their ability to travel.
Staff at Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that raises service animals then sends them to families across the country, said lately, delays in flights has made the process of helping those with physical limitations more challenging.
“When you are serving people with disabilities in 50 states, having puppies out in Santa Rosa, California is wonderful, but when a pandemic strikes and you need to get those puppies all around the country to be raised by volunteer puppy raisers that are helping with their journey to become a service dog, that can be a little bit more challenging,” explained the organization’s marketing manager, Molly Schulz.
Twelve of these puppies were taken to Dayton International Airport on a private plane Monday and are expected to be placed in homes across the area.
“When we place them with someone, they’ve mastered over 40 commands and they’re really there to help them live an enhanced, independent life,” said Schulz. “So picking up dropped items for them, opening and closing doors, pulling a manual wheelchair.”
She said they also serve as an ice breaker for those who may not have experience approaching people with disabilities. But now they’re on the generosity of pilots to help with disabilities achieve independence.
“Once we have a pilot that is interested in flying with us, they coordinate with our veterinary clinic. They go out to California, they pick the dogs up, and then they transport them out,” said Suzanne Sliclen, puppy program manager of the company’s north central region.
Currently those pilots are using their own time, money and resources, but Schulz said in order to keep providing service to families in the Miami Valley and across the country, donations are helpful and greatly appreciated.
“If you would like to help further our mission and help us continue to place service dogs free of charge, you can do so by visiting our website, and that’s cci.org/donate.”