The mission of Canines With a Cause is to harness the untapped potential of shelter dogs to heal emotional and psychological wounds, provide unconditional love, support and companionship, and give a new leash on life to those in need through assistance, therapy or service dog work. Making a difference, one person and one dog at a time!
All of our dogs are evaluated at the shelter for behavior, health and overall temperament, they are also fully vetted which includes spay/neuter, vaccinations and microchip. CWAC then places them in the Utah State Women's Prison, Warm Springs Correctional (incarcerated veterans program) in Carson City, NV, or Idaho Correctional Institute-Orofino where they live and train with inmates. Dogs are assessed and placed in appropriate programs where they provide unconditional love and companionship. CWAC provides free placement and continual training for those who qualify.
CWAC provides free training classes for veterans after dog placement, enabling them to develop skills needed to train their own dogs and become experienced handlers. Dogs can provide veterans with many benefits: simple companionship, motivation to get out of bed in the morning, and unconditional and non-judgmental love. Learning to train the dog also helps to get veterans out of their homes and involved again in civilian life; it helps them develop their emotional coping skills and resiliency, and the positive training techniques our instructors use teach them to guide their dog and solve problems using methods that are enjoyable for the dog and healthy for the veteran. The dog and the handler create a strong bond through working together, and the dog is trained for specific tasks to help the veteran lead a more productive, less stressful life.
CWAC's Pals With Paws" program places trained dogs with children suffering with abuse based trauma, long term or terminal illnesses as comfort buddies.
Dogs from the CWAC program have been living and training in drug/alcohol recovery facilities for several years as part of substance abuse rehabilitation project. To date, the program has been successful for not only the handlers, most dogs go home with their handler as a constant companion for their new, sober life.
We also have “Penitentiary Pups”, an adoption program for those dogs who prefer to just be a wonderful, well-trained non-working family addition.
2020 has been a challenging year for those with PTSD, as the pandemic triggered PTSD symptoms. Hearing others talk about the pandemic as if they were fighting a war, or a battle with COVID-19 or an invisible enemy can bring up uncomfortable feelings and memories. For people, whose trauma involved difficulty breathing, wearing masks or seeing others do so may remind them of that event.
Negative impacts related to the virus include travel restrictions disrupting classes; issues with veteran relations; disruptions to staffing operations; increased program costs; and a drop in contributions. Staff hours have increased due to calling and texting our program participants for daily support and implementing online classes. A satellite program was designed to serve those who are unable to attend classes because of isolation.
Our prison training is also limited due to a COVID 19 lockdown at the Utah Women’s State prison, our dogs are not allowed in the facility for training until the pandemic is no longer a threat. Assessing and training dogs in prison keeps our program cost effective, we are compensating by sending more dogs to the Idaho State Correctional Institute in Orofino, ID.
To find out more about our organization, please watch our short small forces video featuring our veterans, dogs, the inmates who train them and the shelters where the journey begins.