Impact and Programs
In 2020, Can Do Canines certified 51 high-quality assistance dog teams. This included 6 Hearing Assist Dog teams, 22 Mobility Assist Dog teams, 3 Seizure Assist Dog teams, 5 Diabetes Assist Dog teams, 10 Autism Assist Dog teams, and 5 Combinations Skills Dog teams.
We had 360 active assistance dog teams throughout the year, and worked with roughly 200 dogs and puppies training to be future assistance dogs.
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.
2020 was especially hard for people living with a disability and so we were proud to be deemed an essential business so that we could continue training and placing life-changing assistance dogs for people who need them.
Based on the number of dogs we have going into 2021 that will be of age to be placed and certified with a client, we are setting our team goal at 52-60. With the staff we currently have in place we feel this is an obtainable goal.
With our current resources we can realistically breed up to 20 litters in 2021. After accounting for misses, girls who don’t end up pregnant, we can expect to whelp up to 17 litters. Approximately 7 of the 17 litters would be ABC litters. Based on our litter sizes in the past that would mean adding at least 81 puppies from our litters to our program.
To boost the number of dogs entering the program in 2021 we are going to pursue the following avenues –
• Add at least 4-5 shelter dogs to the program. We will add more if appropriate candidates can be found. We have several volunteer families that have said they would consider taking a shelter dog this year.
• Look at purchasing not only additional breeding stock but also puppies to add to the program
• Increase the number of donated puppies we accept.
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.
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
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 over $25,000, 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.