It is estimated that there are 500,000 working assistance dogs in the United States. That number is growing, as assistance dogs become more accessible and popular among people with disabilities. To meet this demand, programs that raise and train puppies to be assistance dogs have expanded rapidly. Many of these programs rely on volunteer puppy raisers to raise and train the puppies until they are ready to become working assistance dogs. 

Like many other assistance dog nonprofits, the Guide Dog Foundation and their sister organization, America’s VetDogs, provide assistance dogs to individuals with disabilities for free. Yet they estimate it costs over $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place a service dog. Volunteer puppy raisers can help offset these costs as they often pay for the basic care, food, and sometimes even vet bills for the future assistance dogs.

But Pawsible co-founders Cate and Vanessa noticed some volunteers in a puppy raising group at the University of Maryland going hungry themselves in order to buy dog food. With the help of UMD’s Do Good Institute and community support, they created Pawsible to provide financial support to volunteer puppy raisers facing financial difficulties. 

Pawsible operates financial support programs such as Rasier Relief, Puppy Starter Kits, and Raiser Sponsorships to help offset the intense and challenging costs associated with volunteer puppy raising. Through a growing chapter network, Pawsible offers financial support to over 500 volunteer puppy raisers across five assistance dog organizations.

In 2020, Pawsible expanded its mission to include providing broader forms of community support for volunteer puppy raisers, including launching raising resources and an internship program. Some of this community support is also in the form of professional and leadership development that is provided to every Pawsible team member. The Pawsible team started as five undergraduate puppy raisers and has since grown to a team of nearly 40 volunteers, all of whom identify as female and/or nonbinary. 

Pawsible’s ultimate goal is to make puppy raising a more inclusive, equitable, and accessible experience. Whether you’re interested in joining our team or becoming a volunteer puppy raiser, you can check out ways to get involved on pawsibleinc.org/get-involved. Also keep an eye out for their Fall Internship application, Puppy Raiser Scholarship, and more, launching this summer. 

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