St. Elizabeth’s MS Center’s Service Dog Program Needs Volunteer Puppy Raisers

Monday, February 04, 2013

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MS Service DogSt. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, a member of Steward Health Care and a teaching affiliate of Tufts University School of Medicine, and the award-winning MS Center at St. Elizabeth’s, are working to help patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis partner with trained service dogs to help our patients lead more independent and a more improved quality of life.

St. Elizabeth’s MS Center is looking for volunteers to serve as puppy raisers. According to Ellen Lahti, MS, director of the St. Elizabeth’s MS Center, “All of our service dogs start as a puppy that needs a loving home and a motivated puppy raiser – you can raise a dog and change a life. This is a fantastic way to learn about dog training as you are participating in a very special project.”

For more information on becoming a puppy raiser, please contact Ellen Lahti, MD at 617-789-2600.

All dogs in the program are Labrador or Golden Retrievers. St. Elizabeth’s works with a small number of excellent breeders and will supply the young pup to the puppy raiser at approximately eight weeks of age. We strongly recommend that you have a fenced yard. Puppy raisers must agree to follow our supervision and leash requirements and may only be off leash in an enclosed outdoor space. We do not allow use of electric fencing, nor do we allow these dogs to visit public dog parks.

Typical tasks of a puppy raiser include:

  • Setting aside time for daily training and exercise and attend obedience classes at least weekly. Most of our training takes place at Masterpeace Dog Training in Franklin MA, under the supervision of our trainer, Esther Zimmerman, and this is free of charge to the puppy raiser. We also provide many opportunities for “real world” training.
  • Exposing and socializing the puppy to activities of daily life. This may include accompanying the puppy raiser to work, a mall, the bank, restaurants, or other public places. When in public, the puppies must wear their vest identifying the fact that they are special dogs, raised for a special purpose. Massachusetts law mandates that service dogs in training are given ‘universal access’ to public places and all of the privileges afforded a fully trained service dog.

The MS Service Dog Program is responsible for the purchase and training of the puppies as well as veterinary care. The commitment is generally two years, but shorter periods may be feasible. The MS Service Dog Program will choose the recipient for each puppy and determine the time of placement. Puppy raisers must be at least 18 years of age.

About St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center;
St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center is a major academic medical center affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine.  Areas of medical excellence include cardiology, neurosciences, general and robotic surgery, bariatric surgery, women’s health, high-risk obstetrics, bone and joint health, hematology/oncology, pulmonary medicine and emergency medicine.  St. Elizabeth’s is a member of Steward Health Care, which is the second largest health care system in New England.  Visit St. Elizabeth’s online at Steward.org/St-Elizabeths.


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