Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Meet Medical Mutts — a local program saving lives and enriching lives

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Shelter animals hold a special place in our hearts because of the predicament in which they find themselves through no fault of their own. They are between life and death in a system that kills them for space and/or medical convenience.

Refreshing are the programs that use shelter animals to bring comfort and aid as “healers” to others. Animal therapy programs provide animals who help strengthen reading skills in youngsters, bring light into the darkness of those suffering from Alzheimers/dementia and mental illness, and more.

Service dog programs provide animals trained for mobility support, to diagnose medical conditions, and to alert patients to impending seizures and hypoglycemia. Dogs used for this kind of assistance are often specially bred for the purpose, assuring a temperament best suited for the task.

But increasingly, experts are recognizing that special breeding isn’t necessary. A local program, Medical Mutts, is a shining example. Jennifer Cattet, Ph.D., co-owner of the business, says with a passion:

“We’re dedicated to debunking the myth that service dogs can only be bred for the job.”

move to ACT asked Jennifer more about Medical Mutts. We think you’ll find it inspiring.

Rescue dogs are a perfect fit

“Medical Mutts is an organization dedicated in training rescue dogs as service dogs. The dogs that come through our program have been strays, have been neglected and sometimes mistreated. We specialize in training dogs for diabetic patients, but also for seizures, PTSD, autism and more.

“To accomplish our mission, we work closely with shelters and rescue organizations. We value the hard work of those who dedicate their lives to saving the animals that, through no fault of their own, found themselves in a hard place. There are plenty of great dogs in shelters and rescues, including dogs that might one day save a life. We’re dedicated to debunking the myth that service dogs can only be bred for the job.

“We believe we can offer the best life possible to a dog. Service dogs are guaranteed to never be left alone for long hours at home and to be cared for and loved by people who rely on them and will never surrender them.

Picking the right pup

“We are regularly in need of good dogs. We’re looking for dogs between 1-2 years old, 20-65 lbs with a good food drive. Since they will be going out in public, the dogs cannot be reactive. They need to look friendly and be comfortable with people, dogs and cats.

“Temperament tests only show a portion of the dog’s behavior and aptitudes. So in order to fully evaluate how much potential a dog might have for the type of work we do, we foster the dogs for 4-6 weeks before we decide to adopt them.

“During that time, the dog receives full-time training and a complete physical evaluation with hip dysplasia assessment. If for some reason we have to return the dog, we hope that the adoption to a home is made a little easier. All of our training is reward based only (clicker training).

A partnership for life

“Before placing a dog with a client, we ask the client to come to our facility for several days and learn how to work with the dog. Clients must read a number of books on dog behavior and follow our instructions for the training and care of their new companion.

“After placement, we track their progress for a full year, making sure that the partnership goes well.

“We currently partner with a few shelters and rescues, but we have room for a few more. So we’re reaching out and are looking for organizations that would be interested in working with us.

“In the end, it’s a win-win-win. The rescue or shelter has a regular source to adopt dogs out, thus saving even more lives, and a new avenue to promote their valuable mission. The dogs move on to a fulfilling and loving partnership with their person. And people with disabilities can get the help that they so desperately need.”

Learn more by contacting Jennifer and checking out Medical Mutts online:

Jennifer Cattet Ph.D.
Medical Mutts
Smart Animal Training
Mindful Guardians

Medical Mutts on Facebook

The mission of move to ACT (mtA) is to heighten community awareness of animal welfare issues and to advocate for improved policies and practices. mtA seeks truth and responsibility and is guided by principles of respect, accountability and integrity.