Impact and Programs
In 2022, Can Do Canines certified 51 high-quality assistance dog teams. This included 8 Hearing Assist Dog teams, 27 Mobility Assist Dog teams, 4 Seizure Assist Dog teams, 1 Diabetes Assist Dog teams, 5 Autism Assist Dog teams, 1 Combination Skills Dog teams and 4 Facility Dogs.
We had 363 active assistance dog teams throughout the year, and worked with roughly 200 dogs and puppies training to be future assistance dogs.
During Covid, we worked hard to move our new assistance dog team training to virtual platforms where possible. We took measures to make our facility as secure and clean as possible for dogs, trainers, staff, and new clients who needed to be on-site.
Our goal for 2023 is 52 teams. With the staff we currently have in place, this is an obtainable goal.
We had set a goal of having 13 litters in 2023. We will not reach the goal of 13 litters with our current resources and whelping volunteers. It has become increasingly difficult to recruit volunteer whelpers, so we have had to skip several breeding opportunities this year. We have 48 new dogs to the program so far in 2023, and our goal is 75.
To boost the number of dogs entering the program in 2023-2024, we recently purchased a kennel facility in order to bring the critical whelping function in-house. Having Can Do Canines staff whelp litters, rather than volunteers, will enable us to increase our litters in the near future.
Community or Constituency Served
Can Do Canines trains the following five types of assistance dogs to support our clients –
Hearing Assist, Mobility Assist, Diabetes Assist, Seizure Assist, and Autism Assist Dogs. Prospective clients who are deaf or hard of hearing, have mobility issues, seizure disorders, type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness, and children with autism may apply. We also started a Faciity Dog pilot program in 2022. A facility dog is trained to work at a designated location with a variety of people. Typically this type of dog is placed in a hospital or a rehab center.
In brief, here is how each type of assistance dog helps our clients:
* Hearing Assist Dogs alert a person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing to sounds by making physical contact with them and then leading them to the source of the sound. This type of assistance dog is often selected from animal shelters.
* Mobility Assist Dogs work with people who have mobility challenges and other needs. They pick up and carry objects, pull wheelchairs, open doors, and help to pay at tall counters.
* Diabetes Assist Dogs detect low blood sugar levels by sensing a change in the small of their partner’s breath. The dog alerts their partner by touching them in a significant way.
* Seizure Assist Dogs respond to a person having a seizure by licking their hands or face, retrieving an emergency phone, and alerting other family members. Their role is to help keep them safe (not to alert to an oncoming seizure, although some are able to) and the contact (licking) can bring them out of a seizure more quickly.
* Autism Assist Dogs keep children with autism safe in public settings and help them experience the world more fully by offering comfort and assurance. These special dogs also serve as a social bridge between the family and the public.
* Facility Dogs - Depending on the environment that the dog would be working in, a Facility Dog could help provide distraction during a difficult time such as surgery preparation, medicine taking, or high levels of pain. Facility dogs can also participate in OT and PT appointments with patients. Dogs can provide an incentive for patients to get up and walk by wearing a harness with a handle that the patient can hold as they walk the hallways. Dogs can assist with motor skills by retrieving a ball thrown or kicked by a patient.
All assistance dogs are provided to clients free of charge, less a $50 application fee. The reason Can Do Canines maintains this policy of providing them at no cost is that a significant number of people with disabilities live at or below poverty. In Minnesota, the poverty level for people with disabilities is 19%, whereas, for people without disabilities, it is 9% (American Community Survey). The total cost to raise and train one assistance dog is approximately $45,000, a price that is out of reach for our clients.
Geographic Area Served
All but Autism Assist Dogs are placed in Minnesota and Wisconsin; Autism Assist Dogs are placed only in Minnesota.