We are pleased to introduce you to the inaugural recipient of Prince William Living’s Giving Back Award: Blue Ridge AssistanceDogs (BRAD), located in Manassas. Founded in 1994 by Lydia Wade and accredited by Assistance Dogs International, the nonprofit organization has a mission “to provide specially selected and professionally trained service dogs to individuals with special needs and veterans disabled by mobility impairments, seizures, diabetes, autism and post traumatic stress.”
BRAD trains each service dog to perform a minimum of three of several basic life skills. These include opening and closing doors, retrieving objects which have fallen or are out of reach, turning lights off and on, alerting for seizures or diabetic crises, bracing someone with mobility issues and retrieving items from the refrigerator. BRAD has trained and placed 24 dogs since its opening.
Before placing a dog, BRAD tests the animal’s temperament and obedience in a variety of settings and situations. Recipients also go through a screening process where BRAD assesses their need and suitability for dog ownership. The cost for obtaining the dog varies.
To recipients of these specially trained pooches, BRAD offers the opportunity to enjoy fuller, more independent lives. BRAD board of directors member Jen Jones gave the example of an area woman plagued by frequent seizures. When the condition strikes, her assistance dog summons help by calling 911 on a customized phone and barking into the receiver. “This allows her to live alone. Without the dog, she would probably need to move into assisted living,” said Jones.
In coming months, you will see more in Prince William Living about Blue Ridge Assistance Dogs. BRAD’s prize package includes an article on the organization to kick off the 2014 Giving Back Award, and 12 months of print advertising and social media updates to let our readers know about this impactful community organization. Additionally, Prince William Living staff will participate in a volunteer project with Blue Ridge.
To learn more about Blue Ridge Assistance Dogs, including how you can support its mission through donations or volunteerism, visit blueridgeassistancedogs.com or call 703-369-5878.