2015 is a special year for Canine Companions for Independence. We turned 40 years old on Independence Day, and have much to celebrate this year. Highlights include the construction of the South Central Region Center in Irving, Texas, which will be completed this fall, numerous campaigns that have increased awareness of our orgranization, the growth of DogFest Walk 'n Rolls, placing assistance dogs with veterans with PTSD, and placing over 230 assistance dogs so far this year.
With several Team Trainings remaining this year, we anticipate that our assistance dog placement goal will not only be met, but exceeded by a significant margin. Today, we have over 2,000 active graduate teams, and over the course of four decades, over 4,800 assistance dogs have been placed. While much has changed over the course of four decades, one thing has not, and that is our assistance dogs and follow-up services to our graduates are provided free of charge.
The support we receive provides assistance dogs to individuals like Bruce. He is a three-time graduate, currently partnered with Takoda. Bruce shares "I couldn't have found a better partner or friend." Takoda has given me a sense of security that I didn't have prior to receiving a service dog."
Canine Companions also provides assistance dogs to Veterans with disabilities, through the Wounded Veterans Initiative. One veteran who has benefited from having an assistance dog is Justin, who is partnered with Service Dog Gnome. Justin lost both of his legs while deployed in Afghanistan. He stated " I haven't let my injuries slow me down. I still try to do everything I did before. There's nothing I can do to change the past. It's not going to bring my legs back. I'm not going to sit around and mope about it. That's what Gnome is for -- to help me move on and strive to do my best."
Canine Companions graduates are extraordinary people, and thanks to friend who support us, we're able to enhance the lives of adults, children and veterans with disabilities. We look forward to providing more assistance dogs in 2015 and beyond.