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When two loving pet owners heard about a series of police-dog deaths that could have been prevented if the dogs had been wearing protective vests, they knew they had to do something to protect these brave animals. So they founded Project Paws Alive, Inc., and now they and their dedicated volunteers spend their nights and weekends—on top of their own jobs—working to ensure that law-enforcement and military canines, as well as domestic pets affected by trauma, receive the same protection and life-saving measures as their human counterparts. The initiative receives requests from civil-service agencies around the country for equipment such as stab- and bulletproof vests for police dogs, canine field-trauma kits, cooling vests, and oxygen masks for domestic pets suffering from smoke inhalation. Often this equipment is too costly for agencies to purchase themselves, or it is prohibited by governmental restrictions but can help police departments, fire departments, and medical first responders save the lives of dogs that work hard to keep humans safe.
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Jennifer Arnold was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a teenager and spent two years in a wheelchair. A local organization at the time trained service dogs to help people in wheelchairs, but it had a long waiting list, so Jennifer and her family went on to spend the next 10 years organizing Canine Assistants to connect people with service dogs. Canine Assistants trains dogs and places them with recipients that have physical disabilities, seizure disorders, and special needs. The dogs can assist with a variety of everyday tasks, such as turning on lights, opening doors, retrieving dropped objects, and providing companionship. Specially trained seizure-response dogs can also remain next to recipients during episodes and summon help. Canine Assistants also takes trained dogs on educational presentations around the region where they meet with students and people in hospitals to teach about disabilities. A new K-9 kids' reading program aims to motivates children to learn to read by letting them read aloud to the dogs, putting them at ease with a companion from whom they will receive no judgment.