Children

Contest Seeks Art, Writing about Human-Animal Bonds

As part of its annual "One Heart, Four Paws" Valentine's Day celebration of the connections among humans and animals, Central Iowa non-profit Paws & Effect is conducting its first-ever writing contest for youth, adult, and military writers. Deadline is Jan. 5, 2015.

Established in 2006, the Des Moines, Iowa-based non-profit is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. The organization also trains therapy animals and hosts dog-agility events.

Editors are seeking previously unpublished flash-fiction, non-fiction, and poetry on the theme of human-animal connections.

Winners selected in each of the following categories:

  • Youth (Ages 6-12)
  • Open—Fiction, Non-fiction, and Poetry
  • Military service member/veteran—Fiction, Non-fiction, and Poetry

Winners in each category/subcategory will receive:

  • Recognition at the Feb. 13, 2015 "One Heart, Four Paws" gala event.
  • A monetary award of $100.
  • Publication of their work(s) in a commemorative broadsheet, chapbook, or other physical object, to be distributed at the event.

All submitted works will also be considered for inclusion in a commemorative anthology, to be published later in 2015.

There is no submission fee for the Youth category. Youth submissions should be made via postal mail, using this downloadable form, or on-line here at Submittable.com. All hardcopy entries become the property of Paws & Effect and will not be returned. Send entries to:

"One Heart, Four Paws" Youth Contest
c/o Middle West Press
P.O. Box 31099
Johnston, Iowa 50131-9428

Guidelines for Open and Military/Veteran categories include:

  • Limit one submission in each category per person.
  • Poetry: up to 3 poems (5 pages maximum).
  • All prose (including fiction, non-fiction, essay, and memoir): 750-word limit.
  • Submissions exceeding the limits will be disqualified.
  • Include a biography of 75 words or less with each submission. Past and present members of all branches, services, and nationalities may submit to the Military/Veteran category.
  • Winners and contributors will be notified by Feb. 1, 2015.
  • This project acquires first North American and anthology rights.
  • Judges' decisions are final. Judges also reserve the rights to make additional awards in each category/subcategory, and to decline making awards within one or more categories/subcategories.

Iowa Fraternal Order of Eagles Donates $138,000!

Nolan, a child residing in Polk County, Iowa, was on hand to thank donors. 
He looks forward to receiving his own autism-assistance dog in July 2014.

The Iowa State Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) recently donated more than $138,000 to Paws & Effect, so that the Central Iowa non-profit trainer of service animals could maintain and expand its production of dogs specially trained for children with autism.

The donation was the result of fund-raising efforts from 39 FOE chapters, called "aeries," across the state. And donations continue to arrive. "The funds raised will be vitally important in growing and maintaining our efforts to serve children with autism," says Nicole Shumate, executive director of Paws & Effect.

Service animals are trained to perform physical tasks in support of a specific individual. By law, service animals are granted access to public spaces along with their handlers.

The cost of a finished service animal can range from $15,000 to $25,000 each, given training, food, veterinary care, uniforms, equipment, and other costs borne by the Paws & Effect organization. Paws & Effect trains service and mobility animals for military veterans, children, and others. Animals are placed at no cost to recipients, and those recipients train directly with their animals prior to the dogs' "graduation."

Paws & Effect has previously placed three dogs with children with autism, and two more dogs are nearly ready to graduate. A new class of puppies will arrive in the fall.

Serving children with autism is an outgrowth of Paws & Effects' long-standing commitment to children with special healthcare needs. Through its "Abilities Through Agility" program, Paws & Effect has been working since 2007 with another Central Iowa non-profit, ChildServe, to pair children and therapy animals in pursuing physical-, occupational-, and speech-therapy objectives. Unlike service animals, therapy animals are trained and socialized to serve general populations.

"For such a small and scrappy organization like ours, those years of experience put us on the cutting edge of developing service animals for children with specialized healthcare needs," says Shumate. "Nationwide, we seem to be one of the leading organizations working in this way."

The Fraternal Order of Eagles' mission is "an international non-profit organization, [that] unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope."

According to the organization, national membership exceeds 850,000, with more than 1,400 local aeries in the United States and Canada. Women's auxiliaries total more than 1,300, with more than 250,000 members.