Emergency Preparedness

Spring is officially here, and summer is not far behind.  While most of us will enjoy nicer weather, we remind our readers that natural disasters such as tornadoes, wildfires and hurricanes are most likely to occur during the Spring and Summer months.  It is to the advantage of your team to take a moment to inventory and update records and supplies.   Disaster can strike at a moments notice, and there may be little time to get yourself and your family to safety.  This month we present some helpful tips on how to organize yourself in advance.

Records– we recommend storing all of your dogs medical records in one place, whether it be a manilla envelope, a file folder or a binder.  Consider storing them in a place where the papers are secure and will not come loose and blow away.  Records should include all program certification papers, medical records including records of vaccinations and all other pertinent papers.  For example, if your dog is registered in a program such as Companion Animal Recovery, make certain to have those papers, phone numbers and microchip numbers on hand.  Update all contact information as needed.

Food and Medications– be certain to have all of your dogs medications in one location.  We suggest a small bin or box that contains all items, so that this can be accessed instantly in an emergency.  Be certain to check the expiration dates on all medications, and always ensure that you have at least a month spare (flea and tick, heartworm, etc.).  Be certain to have enough food to last for at least 10 days – 2 weeks.  Store all foods in one location.  In the event of heavy rains and potential flooding, we suggest that you double bag all foods to prevent contamination and growth of mold if they become wet.

Equipment and Familiar Items– this is the time of year we suggest inspecting all working equipment to make certain it is in good condition.  Items such as working booties are generally replaceable on an annual basis.  Make certain that the collar and lead are not frayed.  Some familiar items such as bedding and a favorite toy will be a comfort to your dog if you are displaced, so plan in advance.  Make certain that your certification vest with ID badge, and a harness, if applicable, are ready to go and in good condition.  Red Cross shelters do accept service dogs, but in order to ensure public safety must be given some assurance that the dog in question is in fact a credible service dog, and not a pet.  Your ID badge, vest and certification papers will provide the assurance that is necessary to ensure that you and your SD may gain access to an evacuation shelter if needed.

The time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens.  Stay safe and have a wonderful Spring and Summer.

Classroom News

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L to R: Dominique Sollazzo and “Charlie”, Ellie Brandt of Soroptomist International, Veronica Wiley FSDS Teacher, Whitney Pulsipher and “Addie”, Tatyana Gonzalez and “Breezy” accept their awards for community service.

Estrella Mountain Campus– Preparations are in high gear for graduation.  The students and recipients have blended well together into cohesive teams.  In preparation for certification of the new recipient – dog team, and these will first take a mock certification test with their student handlers.  After that time, the students will mentor their recipients as they take their official tests with their new dogs.  This past month was exciting for all as one of our students, Dominique Sollazzo, received the Violet Richardson Award from the Soroptomists of Phoenix.  This award recognizes a young woman who has gone above and beyond to serve her community, and her hard work in raising her SDIT “Charlie” earned her this distinction.  We were equally delighted to learn that three of her classmates, Whitney Pulsipher, Tatyana Gonzalez and Lisette Borja were all named as runner-ups.  In fact, all winners this year came from this one class of students.  Paws up to all of our exceptional young woman for their hard work.

Paradise Valley Campus- this past month the students participated in a leadership experience with the Armed Forces Support Group (AFSG) of Sun City Grand.  Student teams were on hand at the AFSG annual golf tournament to provide education and information on service dogs to military veterans.  Students also participated in a hands on teaching experience, serving as skill stations preceptors in canine first aid and CPR training provided to security staff and Salt River FD personnel at the Casino Arizona Talking Stick Resort.  AS a result of their hard work, service dog teams across the Valley who frequent the resort, and teams residing within the response area of the salt River FD will all be safer.  Kudos to all of our wonderful students for making a difference in their community.

Thank You

Our sincere thanks to Miracle Corp, makers of Hamilton nylon collars and leads, Gimborn products and Stewart treats for their recent generous donations.  The FSDS received 4 boxes of goodies, some of which will be given as gifts to our new recipients at this years graduation, and the remainder to be used for our SDITs in the classroom.  This type of support is vital to our program and we gratefully acknowledge their contribution.

AVCO Free Eye Exams for Dogs

Just a reminder to all of our certified teams that April is the time to register for the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (AVCO) free eye exams for service dogs.  Y0u can learn more about this program by visiting their website.  We encourage all service dog handlers to register their dogs and take advantage of this wonderful program.

Graduation 2014

Photographer needed!  We are seeking the volunteer services of a photographer.  If you are able to assist us, please contact us to learn more.

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Graduation 2012 was well attended as we awarded service dogs to multiple military veterans; this year we are expecting a record crowd.

Tickets– this event is by invitation only, and this year we are pleased to report that we had to move to a larger room to accommodate all of our guests.  We are expecting over 200 people and have a wait list for tickets.  If you have a ticket, and find out at the last minute that you are not able to attend, please contact us immediately so that we may offer this seat to someone on our wait list.  Giving up their dogs is a bittersweet day for our students, and being surrounded by a supportive community makes a big difference.

Welcoming Lisette Borja to FSDS Staff

lisette chloeIt is with great pride and pleasure that we announce the addition of Lisette Borja to the FSDS staff as of August 2014.  Lisette is currently a student in the Estrella Mountain class.  In May, she will graduate from not only our training program, but from high school and College, with her Associate’s degree, simultaneously.  The FSDS training program is run as Career and Technical Education (CTE), and works hard to provide teens with quality education designed to get them job ready.  As we continue to grow, it is our goal to hire program graduates, thus providing them with a viable career path.  Lisette has been an outstanding student, and will continue with us as a paid Intern Instructor.   Congratulations on a job well done, and we look forward to working with Lisette for many years to come.