Iowa Service Dogs hosts third annual celebration


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Second annual Paws for a Cause in 2021.

The Iowa Service Dogs will celebrate its third anniversary and honor volunteers and warriors in what is known as the Paws for a Cause event on Nov. 11. The event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. and include drinks and live music by Jesse & the Medicine Men.

The Iowa Service Dogs, a non-profit organization, hopes to increase awareness of the importance of the relationship between a handler and a service dog.

“We provide highly skilled and quality trained service dogs to first responders and veterans to help reintegrate them back into the community,” said Jamie Fisher, Iowa Service Dogs executive director.

The vision behind the service is to give back and honor those who have served the country by helping them enjoy their daily lives through the connection of a service dog and a handler. Paws for a Cause will highlight the importance of those who have served our community.

The event is also looking for volunteers to help in a variety of areas. People can volunteer as content writers, marketing and board members or help out by stepping in and taking care of the service dogs while the guardians are unavailable.

Fisher said Iowa Service Dogs look for ways to get involved on college campuses in Iowa.

“We partner with Drake and Mount Mercy University, and we are always looking to expand our campus connections,” Fisher said.

Iowa State University has resources when it comes to therapy dogs. The potential for collaboration between the Iowa Service Dogs and the Iowa State community offers opportunities for the organization to increase its network of guardians and volunteers willing to help out.

Fisher also said Paws for a Cause offers an opportunity for Iowa State students to get involved with the organization. Fisher said it is a great way to learn how to train service dogs, create fundraisers and become educated on service dog laws and available accessibility options.

Anyone can become a volunteer by visiting the Iowa Service dogs website and filling out a short application. Through an orientation process, volunteers are connected to any specific role they want to take. The website also provides information for those interested in having a service dog and how the qualification process works.

Garland Shirley, a former Des Moines firefighter, was partnered with Smitty, a service dog donated by Iron Hill Retrievers.

“Most people will never say thank you for putting my life on the line for theirs, but it’s like he does it every day,” Shirley said. “That is something I really appreciate.”