Kaia, the four-legged ambassador of the Saint Francis Service Dogs, paid a visit to the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg during their weekly luncheon. Formed in 1996, Saint Francis Service Dogs is the largest service dog organization in Virginia and is accredited by Assistance Dogs International.
Over the years, Saint Francis has placed many professionally trained service dogs in order to assist people with a wide range of disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, joint and/or muscular diseases, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, paralysis, Parkinson's, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other disabling conditions.
It takes two years and costs up to $25,000 to train one service dog. Saint Francis absorbs this cost and there is no charge to the recipient. Presently, Saint Francis places 10-15 service dogs per year in its service area, which includes the entire state of Virginia as well as the areas within a three hour drive of its Roanoke facility. Their goal is to place up to 25 service dogs per year while maintaining personalized training and attention to each individual partnership.
Kaia brought several of her most ardent human fans to the meeting, including Executive Director Cabell Youell, Development Director Niki Voudren and Development Coordinator Nan Strader. Also in attendance was board member Carol Downey, who has been with the organization since it was founded 21 years ago.
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