Canine Companion

July 31, 2020

The Covington County District Attorney’s Office has recently welcomed its newest team member, Canine Companions for Independence Facility Dog, Wendell III.

Wendell, under the leadership of his handler, Shawn Bentley, will assist children who are victims and witnesses of crime, abuse and neglect in Covington and surrounding counties, such as Crenshaw, Butler, Conecuh and Escambia. According to Bentley, “Wendell is professionally trained in over 40 commands that he will use to connect with his clients to offer compassion, comfort and courage throughout any or all parts of the Criminal Justice System. He has the ability to assist them in Forensic Interviews, counseling sessions, Grand Jury sessions and in open court as they testify.” Canine Companions breeds, raises and trains assistance dogs in commands designed to assist people with disabilities or to motivate and inspire clients with special needs. They train four types of assistance dogs: Service Dogs, which assist adults with disabilities by performing daily tasks; Hearing Dogs, which alert their partners to important sounds; Skilled Companions, which enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities; and Facility Dogs, which assist clients in different facility settings, including health care, education and criminal justice. “This”, Bentley says “is how Wendell is trained.”

The process to become a facility dog includes two years of specialized training. At eight weeks old, these dogs are sent to volunteer puppy raisers, who spend 18 months training them in all basic commands and socialize them to prepare them for their work. After 18 months, they are turned back over to Canine Companions for Independence for another six to nine months of professional training. They are then matched with a handler to begin their work.

For over 45 years, Canine Companions has been enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by training and placing more than 6,400 assistance dogs with program graduates, including more than 285 dogs with military veterans and more than 1,600 dogs with children. The estimated cost of an expertly trained Caine Companions facility dog like Wendell is $50,000; however, each facility dog is provided at no cost. Canine Companions depends on the support of tens of thousands of donors and volunteers to match our facility with an assistance dog like Wendell entirely free of charge. Bentley also adds, “I am so thankful for Canine Companions for Independence and their dedicated work in training and providing these awesome dogs. And, I am very thankful for every individual, organization, company and anyone else that supports them financially. Without these people, Wendell could not have the job he has of giving people, especially children, the courage to face tomorrow. He has already made a huge impact in many lives, and I know he will continue to do so. I also want to thank Covington County District Attorney Walt Merrell and the entire District Attorney’s Office staff for their support during the two-year process to receive Wendell, and the Office of Prosecution Services for allowing me to be a part of their great team.”

  • Most Recent News

    Big Dogs Need Owners

    October 9, 2020

    When the shutdown orders took full effect, it became nearly impossible to find a small dog available for adoption as Southlanders sought furry companions. In many Southland shelters, only larger breeds remained available for adoption. Now Los Angeles Animal Service is touting the joys of big dogs while offering discounted adoption fees for larger breeds […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Walkathon

    October 9, 2020

    On Saturday, October 3, hundreds of walkers from across 15 states joined the path to bettering the world for children with autism and their families as part of BluePath Service Dogs’ fourth annual walkathon. The family-friendly fundraiser – this year held virtually – raised more than $120,000 to further BluePath’s mission of providing autism service […]

    Read more

    Service Dog In The Marching Band

    October 9, 2020

    In a year that is anything but normal, the Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has welcomed its first known service dog member this fall. Laurie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, is baritone saxophone player Sara-Beth McKellar’s service dog. The Vicksburg native was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school after her first seizure. […]

    Read more

    Church Blesses Animals

    October 9, 2020

    St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception in Port Jervis hosted a special outdoor service last Sunday afternoon to bless the community’s pets, animals and other living creatures. In keeping with current pandemic rules, pet owners wore masks, remained distant, and took part in praying for dogs, cats, turtles, and other pets and animals around […]

    Read more

    Police Welcomes New Canine

    October 9, 2020

    Young Kingston Police service dog Bask may look small, but his handler says his training and energy are proving that he’s up to fill the shoes of his predecessor. “I think he’s going to be a great little dog,” Const. Jeff Dickson said, looking down at his new partner. A partner that, wearing the right […]

    Read more

    Dog Park For Travelers

    October 9, 2020

    St. Petersburg is widely recognized as a dog-friendly city, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is making sure its four-legged visitors and their humans feel welcome by rolling out the artificial turf carpet. With the completion of the airport’s parking and roadway project – part of a series of multi-million dollar improvements at the airport over the […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Helps Firefighters

    October 9, 2020

    Firefighters battling the Archie Creek and Thielsen fires have had some long, exhausting days. But for some, their troubles seemed to melt away once they got back to camp. Why? Meet Ralph Colombo. He hauls oversize loads. And joining Ralph is his service dog, Cowboy – the morale boosting, firefighting puppy. “He just keeps my […]

    Read more

    Pet Therapy Program

    October 9, 2020

    Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines. At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern […]

    Read more

    A Service Dogs Place

    October 9, 2020

    A new Pineville nonprofit that helps people with disabilities obtain service dogs has made its first match. The Saber Life Foundation was started in March by Danea Key and her husband Joel. They provide people with trained service dogs, paying 51 percent of the cost, with the client paying the other 49 percent. Service dogs […]

    Read more

    Dog Beating Cancer

    October 9, 2020

    A little over a year after a local dog was given only a few months to live after being diagnosed with bone cancer, she is still in remission and will be celebrated her twelfth birthday this month. Cocoa has been with her owner, Bucyrus resident Christie Auck, since she was nine-weeks-old. “On Aug. 18, 2019, […]

    Read more

    More Recent News