Indianapolis nonprofit turns shelter dogs into service dogs

INDIANAPOLIS — Changing the lives of people and dogs across the country is the goal of a local nonprofit that turns shelter dogs into service dogs.

On Tuesday, another group of dogs graduated from the Medical Mutts program.

The dogs are trained to work with people with diabetes, seizures and psychiatric disorders.

After months of training, they return home to their new owners and they are ready to get to work.

“We can relax a bit because we know Thor has his back,” Whitney Milek said.

Whitney and her son, Wade, traveled to Indianapolis from Wyoming to pick up their dog Thor.

“Wade has epilepsy. He was born with it,” Whitney said.

For the past eight months, Thor has been at the Medical Mutts facility learning how to help Wade when he has a seizure.

“He needed a dog especially at night to turn him around when he has seizures so he wouldn’t suffocate,” Whitney said.

She said having this life-saving tool for her son is a huge relief.

“It’s been life changing because there have been some really scary times and we’ve had a lot of ambulance rides, a lot of hospital stays and I don’t think my husband and I have slept through the night since ‘He was six months old because we just don’t know,’ Whitney said.

“So the goal is to save dogs, to change dogs’ lives, and to change people’s lives, of course, and to give them a way to feel or be more independent in their lives,” he said. said Jennifer Cattet, executive director of Medical Mutts, mentioned.

Cattet told WRTV she started Medical Mutts in 2013. She said they train dogs to recognize upcoming problems using scent.

“We know because we’ve been in different studies that dogs can sense when a person is going to have a hypoglycemic attack or is it a seizure or even an anxiety attack,” Cattet said.

If the dog senses danger, he will poke his human and let him know to get to a safe place or check his glucose level as soon as possible.

It’s a relief for Shelly Scott-Harmon. Her son Aidan suffers from anxiety and depression.

“He’s going to be 18 and moving out soon, so the dog will be his ally and act like my eyes,” Shelly said.

She said having Iro by Aidan’s side gave her peace of mind.

“Aidan is a huge animal lover so this is going to be a good fit I think,” Shelly said.

Now, not all dogs can be service dogs.

Cattet said they were looking for several things. A dog that is between one and two years old, with a friendly behavior towards people and animals and above all, they are looking for dogs that can adapt to new situations.

Teaching the dog to work with scent takes a lot of work on the human side of things.

Shelly told WRTV that whenever she felt him getting anxious, she would put on gloves, rub a cotton ball on his forehead and back of the neck, then put it in a Ziplock bag and have Aidan breathe in the bag, then she would send it here to Indianapolis for Iro to use as a tool.

In June, Cattet announced that he would place his 100and rescue dog with its new owner.

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