MENIFEE, CA, June 30, 2020 – As the region continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofit organization Canine Support Teams (CST) visited local hospitals to share a message of gratitude with doctors, nurses, and frontline healthcare workers.
Stella, an active service dog, Benjamin, Pickles, Carter, Eclipse, and Raven, all service-dogs-in-training, along with their handlers and trainers, visited with staff at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, CA, and delivered “paw-made” greeting cards to distribute to emergency care workers.
In late March, Canine Support Teams temporarily closed their training facility to comply with social distancing. The organization acted quickly to provide virtual training sessions to volunteers raising puppies at home and took in dogs who had recently completed advanced training in the Prison Pups program but could not yet go home with their new handlers.
Moved by the bravery and dedication of the region’s healthcare workers, and looking for creative ways to keep dogs engaged while in quarantine, a group of CST staff and volunteers had the idea to put their dogs to work—with arts and crafts!
With the help of volunteer puppy raisers and inmate trainers at California Institute for Men, where CST hosts a first-of-its-kind prison-based advanced training program, future service dogs stamped their paw prints onto homemade cards which were turned into beautiful artwork for the first responders.
“We wanted to send a heartfelt thank you to all of the essential frontline workers helping our community stay safe during COVID-19,” says Carol Roquemore, founder and CEO of Canine Support Teams. “Our volunteers, staff, and pups came together to create these unique cards to hopefully put a smile on the faces of those working so hard to fight this pandemic.”
Canine Support Teams re-opened their facility in late June with strict social distancing and cleaning protocols in place. Despites challenges and increased financial need caused by the COVID crisis, CST is committed to its mission of providing service dogs to those in need, including veterans and other clients who are navigating visible and invisible disabilities, such as PTSD.
For more information about Canine Support Teams, please visit caninesupportteams.org.
About Canine Support Teams
Founded in 1989, Canine Support Teams’ mission is to provide specially trained dogs to persons with disabilities to support their personal, social, and occupational independence. Service dogs are placed with clients who have various disabilities including Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Limited Mobility, and more. Canine Support Teams serves a wide array of clients of all ages and backgrounds. CST relies on its diverse network of volunteer Puppy Raisers across the country to provide foundational training and socialization. The dogs then enter Advanced Training in the Prison Pups Program, a unique partnership with three correctional facilities in California, piloted for the first time in California 17 years ago by CST. Upon completion of training, CST service dogs have learned a combination of 70 unique commands and are prepared to receive certification to become a service dog. CST has about 300 active service dogs of various breeds working in the Southern California community and beyond.