On Monday, August 23rd, The Mayflower Community hosted three dogs in training to become service dogs. Defined by Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
Iowa Service Dogs is a not-for-profit organization based in West Des Moines. Director Kari Marshall organized the Mayflower visit of three dogs and their “puppy guardians.” Mayflower Housekeeper Renee Gibson, a service dog guardian, whose idea this was, joined two other guardians and their dogs. The Community Life and Wellness staff, Leslie Jaworski and Tracy Woolfolk, assisted with the logistics as intern Elena Li continued her emphasis on Pet Therapy.
Visitors included Abigail Feng and Doc and Jan Moore and Smitty. The dogs along with Renee’s dog Murphy, are in training to become service dogs. Upon graduation, they will be assigned to injured veterans or first responder.
A service dog is considered a medical device assigned to a person with a disability in order to mitigate the handler’s capacity deficit. The dog lives with the handler day and night.
The handler must commit to attending mandatory training before and after graduation to include six months of pre-training; a two-week “Warrior Training” clinic in West Des Moines after the match; and periodic refresher training after assignment.
Puppy guardians commit to raising and training a puppy for approximately two years. They take the puppy to weekly classes and field training trips. In addition, they are responsible for completing homework assignments and training objectives assigned by their trainer.