When Canine Companions for Independence placed 309 assistance dogs in 2015, it marked the first time in the organization's 40-year history that the number of placements exceeded 300. Duplicating that achievement in 2016, we knew would be a tall order.
In 2016, Canine Companions not only met last year's total -- it exceeded it by a large margin. This year, 366 assistance dogs have been placed with veterans, adults and children with disabilities. That is an all-time best, and without the support of many friends, we wouldn't be able to place highly trained assistance dogs without the generous support that comes from all parts of the U.S. Over 5,000 assistance dogs have been placed in our history, and today, we have more than 2,100 active graduates.
Our graduates include Stefan, a veteran who was injured while serving in Afghanistan. Stefan today has Service Dog Knoxville, who performs everyday tasks that make it possible for Stefan to live a more independent life.
Another dog that makes a difference is Hearing Dog Marguerite, who is paired with Michelle. Michelle shared that Marguerite helped turn her life around. In addition, Michelle says that Marguerite is up for anything, including helping Michelle in her work with patients.
Canine Companions graduates come from virtually every state in the country and from diverse backgrounds. Yet all of our graduates share one thing -- having an assistance dog that makes a difference for them every day.
Assistance dogs are being trained now to be part of our first classes in 2017. With your continued help, 2017 will be another exceptional year of providing more assistance dogs with people with disabilities.