Junior Humane Society visits senior living facility

Published 10:15 am Monday, February 26, 2024

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The Butler County Junior Humane Society, in collaboration with Service Dogs Alabama, visited the Country Place Senior Living of Greenville on Feb.17th to showcase the capabilities of service dogs and raise awareness about their work in the community.

Ira Verbois, Executive Director of Service Dogs Alabama, highlighted the group’s efforts within the state.

“We are demonstrating the capabilities of a service dog to the residents here today and raising awareness of what we do in the community,” Verbois said. “We’ve trained 150 service dogs that have been placed in the state of Alabama and Florida over the course of the last 11 years. We also have 44 facility dogs in courtrooms in Alabama serving 29,000 children.”

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Kimberly Matthews, Executive Director of the Butler County Junior Humane Society, expressed enthusiasm about the event and said she hopes that it will show the students yet another avenue of working with animals.

“We’re excited to see the interaction between the service dogs and the elderly, “Matthews said. “We’ve hosted Bark in the Park and Pups on the Patio and other events like that, but this is the first time we’ve come to an assisted living facility. These Greenville Middle and High School students are all between 12 and 18 years old, and they’re being raised to someday become regular Humane Society members. Most of our current members are over 50, so we’re trying to bring in the next generation.”

Verbois explained the extensive training process for the service dogs, noting that once the dogs are placed in a home, they must be recertified on a yearly basis. 

“The dogs are trained between two and a half to three years before being placed,” Verbois said. “When they get to about that 2-year mark and start being playful, we have to make sure they can concentrate and work 8 hours a day since they are working dogs. We train a lot through repetition and of course rewards.”

Alaina Norman, Administrator at Country Place, said that she was pleased with the response from residents who were able to ask questions and interact with a service dog in training.

“Our residents were really interested, and they love when people come out to talk to them about different things,” Norman said. “It makes them feel like a part of the community. Sometimes they can feel a little isolated, so things like this really help.”

Service Dogs Alabama provides dogs for various needs, including mobility assistance, PTSD support, and seizure alert. Their rigorous training process ensures that the dogs can effectively assist their handlers in their daily lives.

For more information visit servicedogsalabama.com .