Support dogs visit CVRA as part of training

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 5:24 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A handful of dogs made their way through the TSA check point Friday afternoon, but it was not to catch a flight.

A group of six cute dogs have trained their whole lives to support clients who turn to Can-Do-Canines.

They are a non-profit that works to specially train dogs to give clients with specific needs their independence.

Part of their training involves simulations of many environments, including the airport.

“They’re going to take us through what it would be like if the dogs were to fly with their client,” said Erin Whitfield.

She has been volunteering with the non-profit for five years, host 87 dogs at her home in that time.

The simulation at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport included going through TSA, even walking to the ramp to board the plane.

“They’re going to do the wand and all sorts of things so they’ll hear and see different things that they wouldn’t see otherwise. And that way if they do fly with their client later on, they should kind of know what to expect,” said Whitfield.

Before making it this far, as puppies they did some time in prison. No need to worry, it was not for breaking the law.

“The inmates train the puppies till’ approximately about 12 weeks. And then the puppies go on to their next adventure from there,” said Heather Moussette, who started volunteering her time to the non-profit recently.

She also works as a treatment specialist at Chippewa Valley Correctional.

She said with the help of the inmates there, more dogs are entering the workforce of being support animals.

“There isn’t that many of them,” said Moussette.

And training the dogs comes with its challenges.

“Sometimes not knowing where you can take a dog or take a dog and being turned down in some places,” said Mousette.

No matter the obstacles, Moussette said it is worth it if it means helping make someone’s life a little easier.

“It’s very fulfilling to know that just by loving this dog and taking him out on outings is preparing him on a wonderful mission in life and helping other people.”

Once training is complete, the clients will be matched with the support dogs for free.

Whitefield said Can-Do-Canine is always looking for volunteers, you can click here for more information on how to help out.