A local charity is in serious need of volunteers to help raise dozens of puppies expected to be born by the end of the year.
For 31 years, the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) has been raising service dogs for people with physical disabilities, as well as hearing and cognitive facility dogs. The group recently started raising dogs for veterans and first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Although they have staff in both Burnaby and parts of Calgary, PADS is largely volunteer-run and right now, they’re in serious need of helpers.
“All of our girls have become pregnant at once,” says Tara Doherty, PADS spokesperson.
“We breed all of our female dogs knowing that 80% get pregnant, but this time, all of them did.”
Although it’s uncertain just how many puppies they’ll end up with, the organization is expecting anywhere from 40 to 60.
“We breed Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and a cross of both,” Doherty explains.
“What we hope for is a dog that loves humans and can handle public exposure, interaction, and loud noises.”
The volunteer’s job is to help raise the puppy for 14 to 18 months and bring them along through everyday life.
“The puppy lives with you, goes to work with you, it goes to the movies with you,” Doherty says. “In the process, they’re experiencing all sorts of different life experiences – they’re basically your shadow.”
Volunteers don’t require any prior training in order to take on a service puppy. In fact, the charity almost prefers people without it – it gives a clean slate for both the owner and their four-legged friend to learn from.
The biggest requirement from potential volunteers is the ability to take the puppy wherever they go and to attending a puppy training class once a week. That, and some unconditional love and care, of course.
The group takes care of all veterinary costs, including vaccinations and check-ups.
“Extra toys and accessories will be on the owner though,” says Doherty.
Ideally, owners won’t leave their puppies alone for more than four hours. But that doesn’t mean volunteers are house-bound: PADS says it has a large contingent of puppy sitters that can watch Fido so volunteers can take a day off, or go for vacation.
After the 18 months are up, the puppies get turned over and begin advanced training, where they’ll learn special skills and grow into their specialized role.
Anyone interested in volunteering can begin by attending an information session taking place in Burnaby. They’re looking for 50 new volunteers and families as each litter is born.
For more information, you can visit their website.