PAALS Announces V.I.P. Program To Help More Local Veterans | News
PAALS, Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services, is finding new ways to help serve local veterans through a new initiative called the V.I.P. program or Veterans’ Important PAALS. The V.I.P. program will incorporate qualified rescue dogs that have passed a temperament test to be a part of our Prison PAALS program for the majority of their training. They may be considered to pursue training for service dog work, but if not, they will go to a veteran that is in need of a safe, well-behaved companion. PAALS executive director said, “While conducting interviews for service dog applicants and while running PAALS Patriots I realized there was a need for a different type of dog to help local veterans, a safe companion.” Some local soldiers and veterans battling with combat related stress disorders are greatly benefitted by a trained companion rather than a service dog.
PAALS already places service dogs with soldiers and veterans with combat-related injuries, whether they aid with the mental, physical, or combination of disabilities. While PAALS believes in giving rescues a second chance all the rescues they have entered into service dog training have been released as companions to the general public. The V.I.P. program allows PAALS to still give rescues a chance that do have what it takes as a potential service dog, but allows dogs that don’t meet those standards an equally important role. Some of the dogs that are bred for service work may also transition into the V.I.P. program if they do not meet the strict physical and behavioral requirements of a service dog. The VIP program is a win-win in this sense. Local veterans can obtain an obedience trained dog after the dog has been trained by Prison PAALS inmates and assessed by PAALS trainers.
The V.I.P. program will be free to veterans as it falls under the Rob’s Best Friend Fund. PAALS is looking for donations, veterinary and food in-kind donations to help make this program a success. PAALS also needs full time temporary fosters for initial intake period of these rescues to serve as quarantine homes or veterinary clinics that could house them for 2-8 weeks.
PAALS has also unveiled a Preferred Veterinary Partner program to help offset the additional costs bringing in more dogs will result in. Local veterinarians can partner with PAALS to cover the medical costs of five dogs for one year of training to help make this a success. Any veterinarians interested in participating should contact PAALS executive director at 803-788-7063.
Both of these programs will be highlighted during a special behind the scenes event at Prison PAALS located at Kershaw Correctional Institution on January 24th at 6:00pm.
PAALS is a local South Carolina charity and a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies on volunteers and private donations. Each dog costs between 22,000 and 29,000 dollars to train, based on specific needs, but PAALS does not receive government funding. PAALS does not require their teams to cover this amount, but encourages them to participate in fundraising to try to cover at least 1/3 of the overall cots. Any in-kind or direct support is greatly appreciated as there is already a waiting list for help.
PAALS’ mission is to enrich and empower children and adults with physical disabilities and social needs by training service animals and providing animal assisted educational and recreational activities. To learn more about how you can become a part of this exciting organization please visit our website at: www.paals.org or call us at (803) 788-7063.