CARROLLTON, Texas (February 5, 2024) – Dogs for Better Lives (DBL), in partnership with Operation Kindness, is delighted to announce the first Service Dog placements of two former shelter dogs through its From Shelter to Service Dog program. This initiative, a collaboration between DBL and Operation Kindness, is designed to transform the lives of shelter dogs and provide them with a second chance as life-changing service dogs.
One of the program’s first success stories, a Facility Dog named Walker, was placed with his client earlier this month. Walker, originally an owner surrender at Operation Kindness, underwent specialized training with DBL to become a Facility Dog. He will now work alongside a school counselor, offering support to at-risk elementary age students.
Another success story is a Hearing Assistance Dog named Annie, who is gearing up for her placement scheduled in late February. Annie’s journey began when she was transferred to Operation Kindness from another animal shelter. After being adopted and living in a home for seven months, Annie faced challenges due to her high energy and was returned to the shelter. Thanks to the From Shelter to Service Dog program, Annie has been trained to alert her handler to various sounds in their home, including smoke alarms, kitchen timers, and phone calls.
During their time in professional training, both dogs resided in foster homes with Operation Kindness volunteers who worked closely with an Assistance Dog Trainer from DBL. This approach not only facilitated their training, but also allowed them to avoid the stress shelter dogs often experience in kennels.
“Living in a home environment instead of a kennel allows the dogs to focus their energy fully on their training,” said DBL Assistance Dog Trainer, Melissa. “The Operation Kindness fosters were instrumental in setting these dogs up for their successful training at DBL.”
Through the program, DBL staff identify shelter dogs with the right temperament and skills to become Service Dogs, and Dogs for Better Lives provides specialized training to transform them into Hearing Assistance Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs, or Facility Dogs. Operation Kindness foster homes provide a safe and loving home during their training and up until their placement with a client.
“Operation Kindness’ mission is to make the world a kinder place for pets and the people who love them,” said Ed Jamison, CEO of Operation Kindness. “The Dogs for Better Lives program exemplifies this by giving dogs a second chance at life in a way that betters our community at the same time. Operation Kindness is proud to utilize our thriving foster program to provide loving homes for these dogs on their service journey.”
“Shelter dogs will always remain a crucial focus at DBL. Facility Dog Walker and Hearing Dog Annie illustrate that it can be very effective to train shelter dogs to become service dogs,” said Bryan Williams, CEO at Dogs for Better Lives. “We have already selected three shelter dogs to enter our program are excited to see their progress as we continue to grow this innovative partnership with Operation Kindness.”
The successful placements of Walker and Annie mark a significant milestone for the From Shelter to Service Dog program, showcasing the potential for positive transformation in the lives of both dogs and their future clients.
About Dogs for Better Lives
Dogs for Better Lives is a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focusing on the professional training and placement of Hearing Assistance Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs, and Facility Dogs and is accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and recognized by Charity Navigator as a top 4-star nonprofit. Dogs for Better Lives has trained and placed more than 1,600 dogs with people in need since 1977. Assistance Dogs are placed at zero cost to the client, thanks to donor support. Learn more at dogsforbetterlives.org
About Operation Kindness
Operation Kindness, a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal welfare organization, operates a lifesaving animal shelter and programs to assist people and pets. Founded in 1976, Operation Kindness is a pioneer in Texas for assisting animals in need of veterinary care, companionship and most of all, a home.
In addition to pet adoptions and lifesaving medical care, Operation Kindness’ programs provide foster care for vulnerable animals, behavior and training support for pet parents, affordable veterinary services for community pets, a pet food pantry, and volunteer opportunities. To learn more about Operation Kindness, please visit their website at www.operationkindness.org.
Sara Ifert, Vice President of Marketing
Dogs for Better Lives
Natalie Richter, Senior Director – Marketing & Communications