Paws For The Cause
5K Event Will Aid UDS Service Dogs
By Dayna M. Reidenouer published February 18, 2015
in the Penn Manor Advertiser
At 3 months old, Jewel is practically a ball of fluff. The Labradoodle has soft blond curls, big feet, and a fondness for treats.
The penchant for kibble snacks is what makes Jewel and other dogs like her prime candidates for work as service dogs.
“They work for food,” said UDS Service Dogs trainer Kristy Smith.
“Labs transfer their bonds so easily,” added Lorrie Snyder, Smith’s colleague. “Their attitude is, ‘If you feed me, I’ll love you.’”
Using treats to reinforce commands is important, as a well-trained service dog will know about 80 commands when it graduates after two years. Continually trained from puppyhood, the UDS service dogs are first raised in foster homes, with foster families taking them to regular training classes, before Smith or Snyder take over the dogs’ training full time. A total of 20 dogs are currently in various stages of training, including four puppies that are finishing up placement at a state prison in Indiana, Pa. After the dogs come back to Lancaster in June, four more puppies will be placed with the inmates.
Once Jewel has graduated from training and passed all of her health exams, she will begin work as a service dog. She may be placed with someone with limited mobility or age-related disabilities or with a child with autism. UDS Service Dogs also provides training for service animals for military veterans with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The waiting list has about 17 names on it, with a wait of approximately two years.
“We try to match the right dog with the right person,” said program manager Lori Breece.
Although the initial care for the puppies is provided by volunteers, the costs associated with raising a service dog can exceed $23,000 over two years. The costs include the puppy’s purchase price, vet bills, crates, leashes, food, and training expenses. Additionally, every service dog wears a vest, which retails for $50, and one puppy goes through three or four vests as it matures.
To raise funds for the program, UDS Service Dogs has held various fundraisers. Last year, it introduced Paws for the Cause, a 5k run, walk, and wheelchair roll.
“We are trying to come up with something new and innovative that the community would embrace and (that) would be fun,’ Breece explained. “We had 100 runners. That was good for a first year.”
Breece is hoping to attract between 300 and 400 participants at the second annual Paws for the Cause, which will be held on Sunday, April 19, at 9:30 a.m. The event will be held on the campus of HACC Lancaster, 1641 Old Philadelphia Pike. In response to feedback from last year’s event, Breece and her team of planners sought a new location where parking and the start/finish lines could be near each other.
People of all abilities are welcome to participate in the athletic event, and service dogs both in training and working are welcome. All dogs will be given race numbers to add a splash of extra fun to the event.
Cash prizes – another change from last year – will be awarded to the overall male and female winners as well as to winners in 10 age groups.
Preregistration for Paws for the Cause will be open through Sunday, april 12, at www.udservices.org/paws. Those who register by the deadline will receive an event T-shirt and pay a discounted registration fee. Full-price registration fee will be accepted on the day of the event, but T-shirts will not be provided.
For more information or to sponsor Paws for the Cause, readers may call Breece at 715-8753.