By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald
These kinds of dogs provide a needed service.
Paws & Effect, based in Des Moines, raises, trains and places service dogs.
Melissa Hoose, of Paws & Effect, said the organization was started by Nicole Shumate, who now serves as their executive director.
Hoose said the organization was started in an effort to provide service dogs for returning veterans.
“It was supposed to be one litter and it's gone on ever since just because it has worked so well,” Hoose said.
Hoose said some veterans return with mobility issues from being injured or psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. She said this can make it difficult for some to go out in public. Paws & Effect dogs can do things like open doors, pick up items and turn off and on lights for their people. Hoose also noted that the dogs can sense when their people are becoming stressed and can reassure them in times of stress.
Hoose said it's an honor to be able to help veterans through the use of service dogs.
Each Paws & Effect dog goes through training before they are placed with people. Hoose said they get them when they're about seven or eight weeks old. From there, they go to a “raiser” for 18 months.
“The biggest thing that they learn is just the different environments,” explained Hoose. “They go everywhere — see all sorts of things. They learn those skills that they'll need to help people.”
After this 18-month period, the dogs then go to finish training, which is a few weeks long, said Hoose.
If a person who is to receive on of the dogs has specific needs, this is where they learn those extra skills Hoose said.
Hoose said the best part about Paws & Effect is that they're able to do what they do with no cost to the recipients because of donations.
Paws & Effect recently expanded to begin training dogs for children with autism, noted Hoose.
To learn more about Paws & Effect, visit http://www.paws-effect.org.
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.