SAP needs help to carry out important work

Published 3:54 pm Friday, July 12, 2013

We have all read in newspapers or seen stories on TV about our men and women who have been wounded while serving our country. We have also heard about the plight of our abandoned or lost dogs filling up shelters.   Both need our attention and both are worthy causes, man/woman and best friend in need of some love and healing.

Thanks to some local Foothills Humane Society volunteers, Ann Goodheart, Sev Bennett and Mary Ann Merrill, we have a unique opportunity to not only help those who have served our country but at the same time help some of their best friends. An article they read in a magazine inspired these volunteers, and in 2012 the “SAP” Service Animal Project was born.

SAP identifies and assesses shelter and rescue dogs for characteristics needed in service dogs for wounded warriors. Through SAP the dogs are fostered in a volunteer’s home, receive basic obedience training and then are transported to training organizations, where they undergo specialized training before being matched to their wounded warrior.

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SAP’s first dog, Winston, came through the doors of the shelter in 2012. After passing health and behavior assessments he was placed with dedicated fosters.  The dedicated fosters provided socialization, exposure to different places/experiences and then took Winston to training classes. Having successfully completed the basics and proving a successful candidate he was transported to Florida and the K9’s for Warriors organization where he was accepted within hours (they allow up to three days to evaluate and approve a dog for the program).