Service Dogs Connect Campus and Community

by Brenna Zuranski, Public Relations Writer

Finals week has arrived for students at Cedarville University, which means end of semester exams and projects. Fortunately, students were able to take a break from the stress of studying and cuddle with 4 Paws for Ability puppies on Tuesday, May 2, in the lower level of the Stevens Students Center. The university has had an ongoing relationship with 4 Paws, but that’s not the only reason the puppies are on campus.

4 Paws is a nonprofit organization in Xenia, Ohio, that enriches the lives of children and veterans with disabilities by training and placing quality service dogs. 4 Paws service dogs assist with autism, diabetes, seizures, hearing loss, loss of mobility and more. Karen Shirk founded 4 Paws in 1998, including a university program that brings together local colleges, universities, volunteerism and service puppies in training. 

“The university program is an incredible opportunity for universities to have a connection with the community,” said Lynn Agee, the university program coordinator at 4 Paws. “We all work together as a team to ensure the health and safety of the dogs as well as allowing them to socialize.”

Cedarville University launched K9s at the ‘Ville, a 4 Paws for Ability campus organization in 2012, where students and staff who are interested in fostering 4 Paws puppies can do so throughout the semester. They help socialize the dogs to new environments (grocery stores, restaurants, museums, etc.) and enhance their basic obedience training. 

“It’s important for the students and staff to love on the dogs as if they were their own, but also understand that the dog’s main goal is to become a service dog,” said Agee.

K9s at the ‘Ville started with one student fostering a dog and has grown into 15 students raising and socializing four dogs on campus. A few dogs are also being fostered off campus by Cedarville staff members.

Katherine Ancil, a junior applied communications major, has been involved with K9s at the ‘Ville for two years.

“Cedarville University is one of the few Christ-centered campuses in the 4 Paws university program,” said Ancil. “This has provided us with incredible ways of selflessly serving 4 Paws through fostering dogs and helping with tasks onsite.”

Last month, Ancil was able to watch one of her previous foster dogs graduate from training and be placed with his forever family.

“It’s an incredible privilege to be part of this organization,” said Ancil. “It’s more than just cute dogs walking around campus; it’s a commitment to making sure these dogs are properly trained to meet the needs of their handler,” said Ancil.

For more information about 4 Paws and how to get involved, visit http://4pawsforability.org/

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,760 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.