Molly Morelli, who spearheads Warrior Canine Connection’s (WCC) Dog Programs, will tell you a lot has changed since she first got involved with service dogs. She not only helped found WCC back in 2011, but she also oversees all programs directly related to the breeding and overall health of each WCC dog.
“There has been a huge shift in the industry,” said Molly. “It used to be competitive, now we work together with so many partners; by doing so, we’ve been able to do some amazing things for the service dog industry. We are much stronger working together than being out there on our own island.”
That’s a sentiment shared by WCC partners, Susquehanna Service Dogs and Hero Dogs, both which have collaborated with WCC on numerous aspects of service dog programming over the years.
Most recently, both organizations joined forces with WCC for its annual eye and heart exam day. Granted this year’s event looked a lot different than in years past due to the pandemic, but despite all the changes, more than 100 dogs from all three service dog nonprofits received eye and heart examinations from ophthalmologist Dr. Nancy Bromberg, VCA Southpaws Veterinary Specialists, and cardiologist Dr. Neal Peckens, Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates (CVCA).
Deb Tack, executive director, Susquehanna Service Dogs, says she considers her partners to be part of an extended team, complete with shared goals and missions.
“As organizations, we are so in-line and in-tune with how we do business, including how we care for and train our dogs — it’s a natural fit,” said Deb. “Especially since the pandemic began, we’ve helped each other out with challenges like puppy transports and breeding. We call each other and say ‘hey, have you had this challenge and what did you do?’ We share, collaborate, brainstorm and help each other trouble shoot.”
Jennifer Lund, founder & program director, Hero Dogs, echoes the sentiments, and says that at the end of the day, it’s all about working together to help those who need it.
“Our goal is to place assistance dogs to help people with disabilities increase their independence — it’s a shared mission between us and partner organizations,” said Jennifer. “There is no shortage of need. By working together, we can only improve our collective ability to help as many people as we can while ensuring we have the best match for the individual and the dog.”