Community Partner Spotlight: Paws with Purpose
On a cloudy Friday afternoon I made my way down to our HB-Chenoweth Lane shop. The air was crisp, and as I walked in I could make out a little black ball of fur under one of the tables. As I walked up to the table I was greeted with warm smiles and a little sniff from Finley, a black lab puppy who is currently in training to become an assistance dog. I had an amazing time talking to Bebe Bleakley, Ellen Baldwin, and Barbara Howard. Each of them has done so much for Paws with Purpose and it was great getting to hear their stories.
Paws with Purpose is a local nonprofit that breeds and trains puppies to be highly skilled assistance dogs that can help adults and children that have physical disabilities and other special needs. This may sound simple enough, but what about the people who do the training? Paws with Purpose has partnered with the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women. These women have become the primary trainers/handlers for this program, working one on one with the dogs extensively from 8 weeks of age until placement roughly two years later.
Paws with Purpose started in 2003 with just a few volunteers. They quickly partnered with KCIW, and began the puppy training program. On the weekends Paws with Purpose volunteers take the dogs home to further socialize them and train them. The KCIW handlers take a lot of pride in their work since they know the behavior of the dog is a direct reflection of their training. Having the dogs at the facility is a win-win for everyone involved.
“It is a ripple effect; not only do the women at KCIW feel good, but it’s also the staff enjoy seeing the dogs after a long day”, said Ellen Baldwin, the Development Director.
Bebe Bleakley is a regular at our HB-Chenoweth Lane shop. She currently houses two retired Paws with Purpose dogs who have gone through the program. Her dogs are very sweet and even used their service skills to help Bebe in her own times of need. As a supporter of Paws with Purpose, Bebe has also hosted a “puppy shower” for a new little of puppies that are the grandpups of her dog, Yoko.
There are so many different ways to get involved with Paws with Purpose. Just take a look at Heine Brothers’ co-owner Chuck Schnatter, who decided to sponsor a puppy, Findley. Finley proudly wears the Heine Brothers’ logo on his service vest. This is part of the Puppy Vest Sponsorship Program from Paws with Purpose, which is open to anyone interested in helping support the training program.
Paws with Purpose hosts events throughout the year. The next is April 19th, a 5K Fun Run and Dog Walkathon at Joe Creason Park. These events allow you to see how these dogs are really changing people’s lives. To see more information and upcoming events visit https://www.pawswithpurpose.org/