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Service Dogs

Ann and her service dog

The MS Service Dog Program at St. Elizabeth’s MS Center trains Labrador and Golden Retriever breeds to serve the needs of patients living with multiple sclerosis. Our trained service dogs truly change lives on a daily basis.

Volunteers who serve as puppy raisers make the MS Service Dog Program a great success. The program is always in need of puppy raisers and St. Elizabeth’s works with a small number of excellent breeders to supply a young pup to the volunteer puppy raiser at approximately eight weeks of age. The MS Service Dog Program is responsible for the purchase and training of the puppies as well as veterinary care. The commitment for a puppy raiser is generally two years, but shorter periods may be feasible. Puppy raisers must be at least 18 years of age.

Typical tasks of a puppy raiser include:

  • Setting aside time for daily training and exercise, and attending obedience classes at least weekly. Most of our training takes place at Masterpeace Dog Training in Franklin Mass., under the supervision of trainer, Esther Zimmerman. The training is free of charge to the puppy raiser. We also provide many opportunities for “real world” training.
  • Exposing and socializing the puppy to activities of daily life. This may include having the pup accompany the puppy raiser to work, a mall, the bank, restaurants or other public places. When in public, the puppies must wear a vest identifying the fact that they are special dogs, raised for a special purpose. Massachusetts law mandates that service dogs in training are given ‘universal access’ to public places and all of the privileges afforded a fully trained service dog.

For more information about the MS Service Dog Program or becoming a puppy raiser, please contact Ellen Lahti, MD, at 617-789-2600.


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