By Jamie Williams
People frequently ask why many service dog organizations provide purpose-bred dogs to their clients, as opposed to training rescued or shelter dogs. We talked to Molly Morelli, Warrior Canine Connection’s (WCC) Dog Program Manager about this topic.
"While a majority of dogs put up for adoption make wonderful pets, there are a number of reasons behind our decision to breed service dogs instead," Morelli explained. "The first is the sheer number of dogs needed – in our case, they are intended for combat Veterans. In order to meet a large and growing number of requests, we need to be as efficient as possible."
Morelli explained that it takes considerable amounts of time and effort to identify the relatively small number of rescue dogs that will meet the health, temperament and training requirements necessary to become a mobility service dog for a Veteran with disabilities.
"Finding, training, and monitoring dogs from shelters consumes a large amount of time and resources," she said. "If we know, from experience, that a litter of purpose-bred puppies will have a greater graduation rate, we are better able to predict the rate at which we can make placements."
In addition, breeding service dogs enables an organization to carefully research earlier generations to ensure that hip, elbow, and general orthopedic health is predictable and stable. Then, there is the added benefit of knowing the entire history of the dog, from birth to placement.
"Because we start at whelping, we know everything about these puppies as they grow and train for the first couple of years of life. We see them develop, and we learn their strengths as they grow," Morelli said. "That ensures the best possible placement for the Veteran, and the dog."
Warrior Canine Connection enlists recovering Warriors in a therapeutic mission of learning to train Golden and Labrador Retrievers for fellow Veterans. The 501(c)3 charitable organization is accomplishes this through financial support -- through July 2, 2015, Warrior Canine Connection is participating in the Veterans Charity Challenge 3 on Crowdrise. You can learn more about the organization and how to help at warriorcanineconnection.org.