This episode we spoke with Linzey Zoccola and Élise Rodgers of Pheonix Assistance Dogs of Central PA. Linzey founded PAD in 2009 as a non-profit that trains dogs to assist individuals with disabilities. Linzey herself is disabled, suffering from spinal muscular atrophy. SMA has confined Linzey to a wheelchair and she needs assistance with almost everything.  At age 15, Lindzey got her first service dog and it “transformed [her] life and abilities”. She talks about how differently service dogs respond as caregivers in contrast with a human caregiver. Élise also has a medical condition involving frequent seizures and would not be able to live an independent life if it were not for her dog. Both women decided that training service dogs was what they needed to do so that they could give back and help other disabled individuals experience personal independence and live their lives to the fullest.

Not only is training service dogs helping the human beings in these partnerships, but the training also benefits the dogs themselves. According to Linzey and Élise, animal shelters are bursting at the seems with dogs and they are having to euthanize large numbers of dogs because there is just not the capacity to care for them. Phoenix Assistance Dogs brings all of their dogs into their training program from area shelters. Training a service or working dog, as they’re sometimes called, gives each animal a second chance at life and brings about a partnership that will last for years to come. And, the dogs who start off in the program but are unable to graduate as service dogs still make incredible pets and are adopted as such. It is good to be reminded about the needs of these members of our community, whether they be animal or human. Phoenix Assistance Dogs is working diligently to fill the needs of both. Enjoy the conversation!

 

Contact Phoenix Assistance Dogs at info@padcentral.org and like them on Facebook!

 

Support for this episode provided by WindingWay Books and Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.

Theme music: Invisible Walls by Revolution Void
Break music: An Other Side by Xenyka