FSDS Launches New Community-Based Program

The FSDS Community-Based Training Program is a pioneering concept.  This hybrid program offers opportunities to a broad segment of the community.  While most programs either train the dogs and then place them, or provide team training, this program offers both.  Individuals who seek at acquire service dog (SD) training skills may apply to participate, and will learn to train SDs while raising a dog for someone in need.  At the same time, wounded military veterans or first responders who wish to train a dog for their own needs may elect to participate and train a dog for their own needs.

There are many benefits to be derived from this, including but not limited to:
  • permitting us to truly serve the entire community- this program is now open to all  high school youths in the valley, as well as adults
  • including first responders who have felt isolated builds an instant peer group / support network for them
  • as the dog begins to learn skills the individuals who will train their dogs benefit immediately without having to wait a year or longer to get a dog
  • having the military and first responders involved for the entire time alongside members of the community allows us to build stronger bridges between these populations and enhance what has been set up to be a reciprocal mentoring experience
  • we are free to start classes at any time when funding permits, rather than be locked in to only starting a class in August with the new school year
  • as individuals gain knowledge, we will permit them to be a part of our Speakers Bureau if they desire- alleviating the current problem where they are out of a job and feel marginalized and unable to remain an active part of the military or first responder community

As the program grows and new classes are added, graduates who have learned how to train may apply to continue with us in a paid position as an intern instructor to continue to work towards the 6,000 hours we require to qualify as a Sr. Instructor.   This builds a career path so that individuals who may have felt forced into medical retirement now have an opportunity to gain employment with their SDs and help the next group through the process.

This class is filling up fast- we have already enrolled several military veterans / police officers as well as individuals from the community.  A limited number of seats remain.  Interested individuals may contact us for information on enrollment.

We wish to express our sincere thanks to the Phoenix Police Department Estrella Mountain Precinct for offering us the use of their community room for training purposes.

Now Accepting Applications

If you are interested in joining our upcoming class, please contact us immediately.  There are only 3-4 seats left and they are filling fast.  You may join if:

  • you are a high school student or older
  • you are a military veteran or first responder who requires a service dog for yourself
  • you are interested in learning how to become a service dog trainer

The FSDS will provide a purebred Golden Retriever puppy for you to train.

Classroom News

EM Campus– Congratulations to these hard-working students for their success over the past year and a half.  After three longs semesters and one intervening summer, the dogs are now ready to meet their intended recipients.  The class will be joined by the recipients starting January 16th and the students will mentor their assigned recipient, teaching them how to work with the dogs in public.  The final training will be customized to meet the specific needs of each recipient.

Community-Based Class – set to begin January 16th.  Several of the recipient-trainers and student trainers have already been awarded their puppies and are taking this opportunity to bond with their new puppy prior to the first day of class.  We are looking forward to this exciting new chapter in FSDS history.

Expense Logs for Student Trainers

Attention all student trainers and families.  We are at work to complete the 2015 donation letters for all items you have purchased for your SDIT throughout the year. These letters are written using the information that has been submitted during the year on the expense logs that are due each month.  We note that for several families there are no logs submitted.  Parents- please check your records.  The expense logs must have original receipts attached for all items claimed.  Additionally, those items that are listed as “durable”” must be noted as such, as these items will need to be transferred to the new recipient upon graduation.  The IRS does not permit you to retain items that you have claimed as a donation.  If you believe that you are entitled to a donation letter and your son/daughter indicates to you that they have not submitted their logs, please contact us.  If you are able to provide proof of purchases a letter will be issued.

It is the policy of the FSDS to issue all donation letters by the end of the first week of January in order to accommodate those individuals who submit their taxes early.  Due to the volume of students and dogs it is imperative that you submit any expense reports immediately so that we are not inundated at the last minute.  Your cooperation will be appreciated.

Attention Recipient Teams

With the advent of the new community-based class that permits recipients to team train a dog for their own needs, we would like to provide some suggestions for success at tax time.  All service dog related expenses may be declared as a medical expense on your taxes.  Please setup a file for yourself during the year, and collect all original receipts for expenses, and maintain a separate log.  This will allow you to track the expenses throughout the year and correctly claim them at tax time.

Welcome to our New Staff

Dominique Sollazzo has been hired as an intern instructor for the new community-based service dog training program.  Dominique is a 2014 graduate of the FSDS youth-based training program and raised a dog for a military veteran.  She successfully completed the Animal EMT training this past summer and is currently attending college locally.  We are so pleased to welcome Dominique back to the FSDS.

Laura Cafiso has been hired as a professional Event Planner / Fundraiser to help grow the FSDS.  She brings with her a wealth of experience and a genuine interest to help improve the lives of others.  We are delighted to welcome her to the FSDS.

Wellness Tip

There has been much awareness recently regarding the problems of contamination in dog treats.  Many individuals have turned to making their own treats in an effort to provide their dog with safe and nutritious snacks.  Peanut butter is a favorite for many dogs, and many homemade recipes contain peanut butter as an ingredient.   Readers beware– some peanut butters now contain xylitol as a sweetener- and while this is safe for humans this is highly toxic to dogs.  In some cases, this can be fatal.  Please read all labels carefully prior to making a purchase if you routinely make your own treats.

Making your own peanut butter is a safe way to ensure that your dog will not ingest xylitol and is easy to do.  Simply place roasted peanuts and a dash of salt into a food processor and blend for 1- 2 minutes.  Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Upcoming Events

February– date TBA; the Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club is hosting an Antique Auto show to benefit the FSDS.  Details will be posted as soon as they are available.

March– March 12, 2016 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. , address TBA: Wickenburg Cut-a-thon hosted by Tony and Melody Lamon to benefit the FSDS.  Details currently being finalized.

May – Graduation 2016 at the Glendale Civic Center on Saturday, May 14th from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Photo Gallery

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