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Saturday, May 14, 2022

Patriot Service Dogs organization seeking summer host families for puppies in training

Patriot Service Dogs (PSD) is looking for volunteers to host puppies in training over the summer for the organization’s ‘Service Dog Summer School.’

Beginning on Wednesday, June 15 through Monday, August 15, volunteers will take home a puppy (six to eight months old) to help expose them to the human world. According to PSD, the puppies already know 20-plus commands, they sleep through the night, and they are housebroken.

Veterans who are struggling with a range of issues, from post-traumatic stress disorder to the loss of a limb, can sometimes wait for years to receive a service dog after submitting their application.

PSD is an organization based in Marion County that aims to help veterans get the highly trained service dogs that they need. According to the organization, PSD has placed 50 fully trained service dogs with veterans at no cost, and now the organization is seeking the help of volunteers.

Dogs in the PSD program spend two years in training before they are carefully matched with a veteran applicant. A majority of those two years is spent training with incarcerated women in the W.O.O.F. (Women Offering Obedience and Friendship) program at the Lowell Correctional Facility in Marion County.

While the W.O.O.F. program helps train the dogs, it does not expose them to the world that they will be living in once they are matched with a veteran. PSD is looking for volunteer puppy raisers to help expose the puppies to everyday things like children, vacuum cleaners, kitchen floors, grocery carts, and more.

The PSD Summer School program offers volunteers the chance to host a puppy for two months, and PSD provides the following:

  • Food, a kennel, and necessary gear (bowl, leash, service dog vest).
  • Expert training and on-call advice.
  • End of Summer School graduation party.
  • PSD t-shirt.
  • Two tickets to the Class of 2024 graduation.
  • An exposure scavenger hunt to help guide training.

Each volunteer will provide a safe and loving home, and the volunteers must follow all PSD rules (no human food, no harsh corrections, keep the puppies off furniture). The volunteers will also attend a one-hour training session in the Ocala area every other week, answer check-in phone calls on off weeks, and complete puppy evaluations.

For more information, or to apply, visit the Patriot Service Dogs Volunteer Application webpage.