A whole bunch of puppy love: New organization allows students to adopt dogs, train them for disabled

Residents of the Kappa Delta house are no strangers to groups of people congregating at their home, but on Friday a different group of people — or rather, dogs — entered instead.

UK’s newly-formed branch of 4 Paws For Ability, an organization based out of Xenia, Ohio, that allows students or families to take in and train a puppy for disabled children, met at the house in sorority circle, and members were introduced to their new, temporary roommates.

Elementary education sophomore Logan Bright, founder of the UK branch, started planning for the organization this year and during Winter Break found four student volunteers to host dogs in their off-campus homes.

Biology junior Victoria Elliott is one of those volunteers.

Elliott said she and her roommate, psychology sophomore Christine Baughman, had wanted to adopt a foster puppy but could not find a program in Lexington with costs they could afford.

The program pays for all expenses like food, toys and shots and gives volunteers new supplies about every three months.

“(4 Paws For Ability) was a really good program,” Elliott said. “It fit everything we wanted.”

Elliott said she and her roommate found out about the program a few weeks ago, right around the time they began researching foster puppy options.

Baughman said the program worked out perfectly in her mind because she and Elliott are out of state, so buying a dog would be difficult to care for when having to leave for breaks.

Over school breaks Bright will take the dogs back to the organization’s headquarters in Ohio and bring them back once the foster parents return to Lexington.

Both Baughman and Elliott said the only concern she has about participating will come when she has to give up the puppy to someone in need.

“I know that it’ll be really hard to give the dog up at the end, but I’m excited to have it for six months,” Elliott said.

Bright said at Friday’s orientation each volunteer was assigned to a dog and 4 Paws For Ability representatives went over basic rules of what to do with the dogs and how to train them.

“They were really excited,” Bright said. “I was under the impression they were bringing labs, but they actually brought all different kinds of dogs.”

Bright said she will check up on the volunteers weekly, and the program will have monthly meetings to learn new commands to practice with the dogs.

Volunteers will keep the dogs until at least April, when they can give them to Bright to take back to Ohio, or they can keep them through the end of the semester and return the dogs themselves.

“I feel really good about it,” she said. “I think we have a really great group of volunteers training the dogs, and I feel really confident that they’ll do a good job.”