Growing demand for service dogs across the Midlands

PAALS says that applications to be paired with service animals have gone up 67%

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — More people across the Midlands are looking to start a special bond with service dogs.

In her 13 years with Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS), Jennifer Rogers says the amount of people asking to be paired with a service dog has never been higher.

“Our waiting list and applications that come through have increased by 67% each year,” Rogers, the Executive Director of PAALS, said.

Rogers says veterans and people with disabilities are the most common companions for her dogs.

Sometimes, based on the availability of dogs with the skills that could meet their needs, people could be on a waiting list for months, even years. However, Rogers says finding the right match is worth the wait.

“We take a lot of things into consideration. Someone’s lifestyle, that dog’s abilities, their strengths and weaknesses. All of that matters, so that’s one of the most critical parts to our matching process is really making sure we have the right dog for the right job,” said Rogers.

Service dogs usually start in the program when they are three days old, and they go through a whole lot of training until they are matched with the perfect fit.

Dori Tempio has gotten her service dogs through PAALS in the past, and she says having a well-trained pup like Shack makes day-to-day life as seamless as possible.

“Shack is instrumental for me to be able to be independent without having to rely on people. He helps me to do a lot of different everyday tasks that help to make my life simpler,” Tempio said.

By seeing people thrive with one of her service dogs by their side, Rogers says it’s always rewarding to see the right fit between a dog and his or her companion. 

PAALS is starting a new program called Homeschool Heroes where people can volunteer to raise a future service dog for four months.

For more information on how to help out, click here.

Categories: Local News, News