The last Canine Companions for Independence 2015 graduations took place on November 6 and 7. Graduation ceremonies included the South Central graduation in Irving, Texas, which was held at our brand new center in Irving. With the November graduations, the number of assistance dogs placed in 2015 topped 300 for the first time in our 40-year history. We're so pleased to have reached this milestone and are grateful to all who make our work of providing highly trained assistance dogs free of charge to adults, children and veterans with disabilities free of charge possible.
2015 is a particularly special year for Canine Companions, because our organization turned 40 years old on the 4th of July. The year featured not only the opening of our sixth center, but we also placed assistance dogs with Veterans with PTSD. The placement of assistance dogs with veterans with PTSD is part of a study being conducted by the Veterans Administration.
We broadened our reach thanks to the 28 DogFest Walk 'n Rolls held across the country. These events educate and inform the public about Canine Companions and the amazing things that our assistance dogs can do.
With over 4,800 assistance dogs placed in organization's history, our instructors are training dogs now that will graduate in the first quarter of 2016. All who contribute through this program truly make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.
One such person who benefits is four-time graduate Jeanette, who has spinal muscular atrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy that causes muscles to deteriorate. Her current service dog, Thelma helps make Jeanette's life easier by turning lights on and off, picking up dropped items and carrying Jeanette's briefcase. Thelma can even open the refrigerator and get items out and put them on the counter where Jeanette can reach them. Jeanette shared that "She is so receptive to my needs and wants to please me no matter what."
Thank you for helping us place dogs like Thelma III with people like Jeanette.