Who We Are
Puppies with Purpose is a nonprofit organization in Columbia, Missouri dedicated to preparing puppies to become service dogs. By raising and socializing puppies to become assistance dogs and by helping to create a disability conscious community, students provide aid to people with disabilities while learning the value of service to society.
What We Do
Service dogs, also called assistance dogs, can be life changing for a person with cognitive or physical disabilities that need extra help with everyday tasks. There is a drastic shortage of service dogs in the United States, with a waiting list of two years or more, and service dogs can cost up to $23,000. Puppies with Purpose is working to offset the shortage of service dogs by allowing Mizzou students to raise and socialize service dogs in training. We do not train the dogs ourselves; rather, the dogs are trained through a special program at a women’s prison in Vandalia, Missouri.
Puppies with Purpose is an organization in Columbia, Missouri that allows University of Missouri students to raise puppies to become service dogs. We work in conjunction with our parent organization, Canine Helpers Allow More Possibilities (CHAMP) Assistance Dogs, Inc. After our student volunteers work to socialize puppies and prepare them for the rigorous process of becoming service dogs, CHAMP trains them to aid people with a variety of cognitive and physical disabilities (though Puppies with Purpose and CHAMP do not provide service dogs for those needing help with visual or hearing impairments, or seizure or diabetic alerts).
One of our primary missions is to assist in alleviating the drastic shortage of service dogs throughout the country. Disabled persons who would benefit from a service dog must wait for what may be years to obtain one – additionally, service dogs may cost as much as $23,000. The beauty of sending our puppies to CHAMP is that the organization is one of the few that does not charge the clients for their service dogs. CHAMP will place service dogs with children with disabilities, and through an extensive process, works to find perfect matches for the animals they train.
It is also the mission of Puppies with Purpose to help to create a disability conscious community through our educational programs. Through presentations and demonstrations we educate students and the public about service dog etiquette and the important jobs these dogs perform daily.
How does it work?
Under the guidance of our program coordinator, an experienced veterinarian, student puppy raisers and puppy sitters socialize our puppies and work to expose them to a wide variety of people, noises and situations. This readies them for the things they might encounter as service dogs at a young age, which is preferable.
After an initial phase of this type of training, eligible puppies will be accepted into CHAMP, whose training takes place at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correction Center in Vandalia, Missouri. This has the added benefit of helping the prison’s inmates give back to the community.
After completion of basic training at the prison, which takes anywhere from six to eight weeks, the puppies may be returned to our organization’s puppy raisers for 10 more weeks of socialization. This rotation continues for 18 to 24 months, when the dog is trained and ready to be placed in his or her final service position.