Organizations partner to help children with autism - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Organizations partner to help children with autism


GLASGOW, Ky. (AP) -- A national organization started under the direction of a Glasgow native has partnered with the local animal shelter to train dogs to serve children with autism.

Dana Emmitt-Hall, a former elementary school teacher whose son was diagnosed with autism, started the Blessings Unleashed Foundation in 2007.

Hall said that her service dog, Ace, is great for her son, Cameron. Ace plays with Cameron and is trained to prevent him from running off. If Cameron tries to slip away, Hall will yell "Block," and Ace will block Cameron.

"Cam thinks it's so funny. He'll clap his little hands and say 'Good job,"' Hall said.

For the last several years, Blessings Unleashed has used volunteer families to raise puppies as service dogs, but the process is expensive and time-consuming with too much risk. It takes time to assess if the puppies are a right fit, based on behavior and temperament criteria.

The organization's new plan is to evaluate shelter dogs at Barren River Animal Welfare Association that are old enough for those three traits to be evident and begin training them.

"We're gonna be starting at scratch with these rescue dogs," Hall said.

The foundation has placed seven dogs with families in Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Wisconsin and Florida.

Sherry Woodard, an animal behavior consultant with Best Friends Animal Society, spent a few days teaching Blessings Unleashed and BRAWA volunteers as well as members of the community how to assess and train dogs.

Blessings Unleashed volunteers will work with BRAWA volunteers to find dogs that are an appropriate fit. The two organizations have been discussing this plan for months, and BRAWA director Margie Patton said they are going to take their time making sure the program works.

Patton said the collaboration is going to start by trying to place two dogs.

"If it works out ... it would mean that those dogs would have good homes," Patton said. "For us it seems like a win-win."

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.