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Coquitlam Legion raises $20K to help train service dogs for veterans

The Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) is grateful for Coquitlam's generosity as there's still a need for more trainers and volunteers.

Donations for poppies last Remembance Day have not only helped military members and veterans, but the furry friends that provide emotional support for service members, too.

On Friday (May 26), Coquitlam's Royal Canadian Legion branch (#263) presented a donation cheque of $20,000 to the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) as a result of its poppy campaign throughout fall 2022.

Patrons at the Legion — located at 1025 Ridgeway Ave. — erupted in applause when president Bob Chapman announced the total.

The number brought PADS executive director Laura Watananuk, as well as 263 poppy chair Laurie Chapman, to tears of gratitude.

One could also see slight smirks on the faces of three service dogs in attendance, too.

"Mudge" was at the front to accept the donation while friends "Abra" and "Camilo" watched in excitement.

The money is set to help cover training and a lifetime of support for one service dog and client Watananuk told the Tri-City News.

That's 57 per cent of a yearly estimated cost of $35,000 per dog.

As a result, more raisers and volunteers are needed to take care of puppies in training between eight weeks and 18 months.

"It means taking the dogs out and about with you in public; teaching the dogs good behaviour and general obedience. And right now we have 23 puppies on the ground that are going to be going out in the next two months and we only have 15 homes," Watananuk explained. 

"We're really in need of volunteers to raise, train and socialize their puppies."

She added that the dogs also help in a variety of situations, including victim services, medical appointments and visits to Canuck Place hospice and children's hospital.

The COVID-19 pandemic also led to a 30 per cent increase in applications for PADS service dogs, according to the non-profit organization.

For more information about PADS service dogs, you can visit the society's website.