Volunteer Puppy Raising

Volunteer Puppy Raisers are volunteers in the St. Louis Metropolitan area who agree to take a puppy (usually from seven to 12 weeks of age) into their home and provide the care, training, and socialization that will be the base for its life as an assistance dog. Volunteer Puppy Raisers are asked to make a minimum time commitment of six to eight months to raise a puppy.  Click to download a Volunteer Puppy Raising brochure.

Support Dogs, Inc. uses Labrador retrievers and Golden retrievers. The puppies in the program come from breeders approved by Support Dogs to ensure that all medical, personality, and behavioral protocols are met. These breeds have an excellent temperament, strong work drive, and an incredible desire to please their human partner.

While in the care of the Volunteer Puppy Raiser, Support Dogs, Inc. requires that the young puppy is brought to a training class on a weekly basis, then twice a month after the puppy matures. It is also the responsibility of the Volunteer Puppy Raiser to socialize the puppy as much as possible by taking it to local businesses, restaurants, sporting venues, stores, etc. to ensure the puppy is exposed to as many sights, smells, and situations as possible. By doing this, the puppy becomes used to its environment and can focus its attention on their human partner – eventually an assistance dog client. Volunteer Puppy Raisers are also responsible for all costs associated with raising the puppy: food, veterinary care, and supplies.

The following are some of the guidelines that are to be followed as a Volunteer Puppy Raiser:

  • Volunteer Puppy Raisers must keep the puppy on a specific diet as determined by Support Dogs, Inc.
  • Other animals in the puppy raising home are acceptable, as long as they are accepting of a new puppy coming into the home.
  • The Volunteer Puppy Raiser is responsible for all food, veterinary costs and supplies for the puppy during the puppy's time in the home. This is considered a donation to Support Dogs, Inc. and is tax deductible (consult your tax advisor).
  • Support Dogs, Inc. requires that all puppies be raised in an indoor environment.
  • The puppies must attend class per the guidelines set forth by Support Dogs, Inc.
  • Any instance of the guidelines not being met can result in a Volunteer Puppy Raiser having to return the puppy to Support Dogs, Inc.

To complete an application to be a Volunteer Puppy Raiser, please download the registration packet and send it to the address listed on the application.