Service Dogs Alabama 2019 Graduation
13 dogs are ready to make a difference in the lives of their owners and others around them.
Service Dogs Alabama is excited to welcome their 2019 graduating class. The ceremony was held Sunday at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
The Montgomery Police Department is one of 13 participants with their dog Chester. He is the first service dog for MPD.
“The officers really seem to take to him, the citizens seem to take to him and he also can be used to calm down crime victims, someone’s that’s upset, going through a hard time – Chester will be able to comfort them,” said Sgt. David Hicks.
To receive Chester, there was a 2 year process. But Sgt. David Hicks says it was worth the wait.
“Chester is going to be a neat part of mpd. He’s going to actually go out to the schools. He’s going to be part of our community meetings, he’s going to hang out at the station, boost moral with the officers,” said Hicks.
Before receiving their certificates, graduates had the chance to hear stories from previous participants in the program, like Michael Lenio, who has a diabetic alert dog named Brandi.
“She has been my faithful companion for three to four years,” said Lenio.
Brandi also helps Lenio with anxiety.
“Without this dog, the anxiety levels would be through the roof. I couldn’t talk to you through this camera right now. I couldn’t function without this dog. She really is my safe space,” said Lenio.
Lenio says, he hopes the 2019 class will also find their safe space in their dogs.
“It’s just beautiful to see these families be blessed with such amazing animals,” said Lenio.
Service Dogs Alabama is the oldest and largest non-profit in Alabama that serves disabled children and veterans.