A day in the life of a service dog in training NEW HEADLINE

Jenna Kuczkowski


4 Paws for Ability is a program that trains service dogs and our step in the process is to foster and socialize them and then they get placed with a child with disabilities or a veteran if they pass all of their assessment tests.

4 Paws was founded in 1998 by Karen Shirk after she tried unsuccessfully for years to obtain a service dog from traditional service dog agencies. At the time, Karen often used a ventilator to breathe, and the agencies she applied to found her too disabled to receive a service dog.

After obtaining her own dog and finding the training herself, Karen decided to start her own organization where service dog applicants were not judged based on the severity of their disability and 4 Paws began.

Students at Kent State participate in a version of Paws through the University Program which allows college students to help foster, socialize, and train puppies in preparation for their future more advanced training. The dogs go wherever the student goes which means going to class, activities and even to the grocery store.

The Kent State 4 Paws program got started in 2016 Fall Semester after recent criminology and justice studies graduate, Anna Dempsey heard about the program and thought herself and Kent students could contribute.

“When I first started the program I thought it was so cool because i was going to get a dog and everything was paid for, but after two or three weeks i realized that this was much more than that. I know a lot of people start it because everyone wants a dog , but it gets way more in depth once you’ve had a dog for about a month because you definitely realize how much work it actually is and the purpose the dog has,” said Dempsey.

Now, the group has grown to 20 dog fosters which includes, Maxwell Newberry, a junior digital science major, as the new campus coordinator for the 4 Paws For Ability University Program at Kent State.