Volunteer Puppy Raisers At NEADS In Princeton Help Train Service Dogs
PRINCETON (CBS) -- 7-month-old Broadway is a service dog in training and the hope is that after learning commands, he will be ready to help change someone's life for the better.
"He's half-black lab, half-golden retriever," said Leah Bell. "He's a super chill boy. He makes it super easy."
Bell took Broadway into her home five months ago as a Puppy Raiser through NEADS, a non-profit organization based in Princeton that breeds, trains, raises, and places service dogs.
"A puppy raiser is a volunteer for us, so they basically make sure our dogs are fully socialized, and they make sure our dogs can go anywhere and do anything," said Rea Samuels, an instructor at NEADS.
Once the puppy finishes the program, they go into the Prison PUP Program, where they learn more advanced skills. After that, they're ready to be matched with a client.
"Veterans with PTSD, children and adults with physical disabilities, such as someone in a wheelchair, clients who are deaf or have hearing loss," said Bell.
Throughout the process, NEADS assists with finances and training.
"I don't have to pay for the vet bills, the food, that's all provided with NEADS, which is awesome and really helpful," said Bell.
To be a puppy raiser, candidates must be willing to look after a dog like Broadway for at least a year and attend weekly training sessions. It's a job that requires a lot of work, but it's a rewarding one.
"They are changing someone's life through this dog. so they put in the work, the effort, the heart, the soul into this dogs. And then the dog moves on, they go to their client and that client is given their independence," said Samuels.
"Yeah, I'm not gonna lie, it's hard, but it's so worth it," said Bell. "They will tell you how their dog made their life so much better and I was a huge part of that, which is awesome."
For more information on NEADS and how to become a Puppy Raiser, visit https://neads.org.
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