School is in for emergency medical service dogs

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130527 ems dogsService dog pupils get paws-on experience when they get to hop into an ambulance and sniff out the latest classroom.

Paws With A Cause along with Life EMS Ambulance in Grand Rapids, Mich., hold dog obedience classes for pups in training to become assistance or service dogs. Paws With A Cause is a nationwide non-profit organization that serves patients with a range of disabilities from blindness to seizures.

“Our clients are people with disabilities and it is a fact that ambulance rides are part of their lives,” said Deb Davis, National Marketing Manager for Paws With A Cause.

The Americans with Disabilities Act states that service dogs are allowed in ambulances as long as the animals are kept under control. Obedience classes where dogs are exposed to surroundings such as these, allow the animals to get comfortable with possible situations where EMS workers, medical equipment and ambulances will be involved.

“The different sights and smells in an ambulance could be scary, so the exposure for them is really important,” said Davis.

During the “Emergency services” class, the dogs get introduced to the emergency vehicle and get to hear the ambulance’s sirens. It is important for all future service or assistance dogs to have a controlled reaction to the sirens. Ideally the dog will not react negatively to the blaring sound.

Participating in the May 2013, lesson was a Poodle name Candy and when the sirens went off she raised her ears but remained calm.

Other adult service dogs are present during the sessions, they set the example for puppies to follow.

The training period for a dog to become a service dog lasts about 15 months. During this time, the animal in training stays with volunteer foster owners and once the training is completed, the dog is evaluated. After passing evaluation, the service dog is assigned a service and a companion to serve.

Learn more about Paws With A Cause and what they do by visiting