Iowa Offenders to Help Raise Future Service Dogs

Paws & Effect Group 2017A group of 13 low-risk inmates serving life sentences at a minimum security facility in Rockwell City will raise, socialize, and care for puppies, so that the dogs can later be trained as service animals via the Des Moines-area non-profit Paws & Effect, Iowa Department of Corrections officials recently announced. The North Central Correctional Facility houses approximately 500 offenders. Located in Rockwell City, Iowa, the institution emphasizes individual accountability and responsibility, and offers a variety of education and life skills programs. Programming also includes vocational education opportunities through Iowa Central Community College, and working in the facility's gardens, which produce more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables annually.

"The North Central Correctional Facility is honored to be given the opportunity to work with Paws & Effect," says Warden Robert Johnson. "Initial interest was formed by offenders convicted of a life sentence who believe this program will provide a means to give back to the communities by providing service animals specifically aimed at assisting veterans and children. These men host a myriad of skill sets as well as possess a deep history in training service animals. We at the North Central Correctional Facility believe this program also fulfills our mission of 'Creating Opportunities for Safer Communities,' as we will be assisting those experiencing specific hurdles in their lives the opportunity to not only feel safe but also thrive in their environment with a beautiful, well-trained therapy/service animal at their side."

Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate says she looks forward to the partnership, particularly as an extension of her organization's foundation in promoting compassion and care through the human-animal bond.

"It is a privilege to work with offenders, whose efforts include contributing to the community in a healthy, effective, and positive way," Shumate says. "Too often, we shun criminals whose crimes will keep them incarcerated for the rest of their lives, foregoing opportunities of rehabilitation. In a state that has eliminated the death penalty, we have an obligation to offenders that extends beyond the minimal physical needs of keeping them alive in a contained and restricted environment."

"The value that offenders will be bringing to Paws & Effect and service dog recipients can not be overstated. With a collective span of decades of service dog training between them, they bring a talent that is difficult to find in any other place. We are honored to stay true to our mission of taking a moment and making a difference."

Through the partnership, Paws & Effect will supply puppies and trainers with dog food, hard chew and pull toys, starter leashes, and collars, clickers, and treat bags. Puppies will work with participating offenders for approximately 18 months, before graduation, placement, and

Service animals are trained to perform physical tasks to assist a specific individual. Given their socialization and obedience training, animals who do not meet service animal requirements may still be employed and placed as therapy animals, performing jobs and boosting morale in libraries, hospitals, and other facilities.

Established in 2006 and based in Des Moines, Paws & Effect 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 group also registers therapy animals through Pet Partners. Its Beaverdale neighborhood storefront also serves as a training center, as well as home base to Troop 232 of the Dog Scouts of America.

Meet the New Pups: The 'Shoe' Litter!

Shoe LitterPaws & Effect, a Des Moines, Iowa-based non-profit organization that raises and trains service dogs for military veterans and others, has announced that a new litter of seven service-dogs-in-training has been identified and named. The puppies will be raised by Iowa volunteers for up to 18 months, then professionally trained by staff, and eventually placed with veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or mobility impairments. Psychiatric service dogs assist handlers in navigating stressful environments and situations, both at home and in public, by performing physical tasks. Examples of such tasks include creating non-threatening buffer zones between the handler and strangers, and waking a sleeping handler who is experiencing a nightmare. Mobility animals assist handlers in such physical tasks as walking, grabbing objects, and opening doors. In public, service-dogs often wear uniforms to indicate their special purpose, but these are not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Adidas"Inspired by a fantastic donation of $10,000 from the In My Boots 5K student organization at Des Moines Area Community College's Boone campus, our latest litter of puppies has been named on a theme of hardworking and fast-running footgear,” says Nicole Shumate, executive director of Paws & Effect. "These puppies will first be socialized by volunteers, who will carefully monitor their health and development, before starting training as service animals in about 18 months."

"Paws & Effect provides and places animals with handlers at no charge," says Shumate. "Because the training and healthcare maintenance each animal can reach up to $25,000 each, we rely heavily on volunteers and community fund-raising efforts to help meet our mission!"

The seven puppies of the "Shoe" litter are:

  • Adidas ("Addy")
  • Boots
  • Grommet
  • Lacey
  • Puma
  • Sole
  • Velcro

Established in 2006 and based in Des Moines, Iowa, Paws & Effect 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 group also registers therapy animals through Pet Partners. Its Beaverdale neighborhood storefront also serves as a training center, as well as home base to Troop 232 of the Dog Scouts of America

Dine Out During Our 4th 'Tables & Tails' Fund-Raiser!

tables and tails scheduleThe Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is one of the laws that helps ensure people who use service animals can access buildings and businesses in the course of their daily lives. Together with leading Iowa restauranteurs and other Iowa Jaycees, you can help Paws & Effect will celebrate the 27th anniversary of this landmark legislation with its Fourth Annual "Tables & Tales" event! Throughout July, select Central Iowa restaurants will contribute a 10 percent or more of their proceeds to support training service and mobility animals for military veterans, children, and others.

"These business owners regularly open their doors to make dining experiences that are memorable, safe, and enjoyable for all patrons," says Nicole Shumate, executive director of Paws & Effect. "We're humbled that they're extending their hospitality to help us celebrate and improve service-dog access in our community."

You can participate in "Tables & Tails" by dining at these sponsoring restaurants:

July 6, 2017 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jason's Deli 3910 University Avenue West Des Moines, IA 50266

July 10, 2017 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Guru BBQ 300 West Martin Luther King Jr Parkway #170 Des Moines, IA 50312

July 11, 2017 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Confluence Brewing Company 1235 Thomas Beck Road Des Moines, IA 50315

July 12, 2017 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fong's Pizza & Tiki Bar 1450 S.W. Vintage Parkway #120 Ankeny, IA 50023

July 14, 2017 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. American Legion Bar and Grill 1511 South Union Street Des Moines, IA 50315

July 15, 2017 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Gilroy's Kitchen + Pub + Patio 1238 8th Street West Des Moines, IA 50265

July 17, 2017 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Panchero's Mexican Grill 2706 Ingersoll Avenue Des Moines, IA 50312

July 26, 2017 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Flavory Bistro 1450 S.W. Vintage Parkway #160 Ankeny, IA 50023

Book Club Aug. 6, 2017: 'Chosen by a Horse'

chosen by a horseThe next Paws & Effect Book Club selection is the 2007 best-selling memoir "Chosen by a Horse" by Susan Richards. The book tells the story of how Richards rescued a retired race horse named Lay Me Down. According to book jacket copy, "This gentle creature―malnourished, plagued by pneumonia and an eye infection―had endured a rough road, but somehow her heart was still open and generous. It seemed fated that she would come into Susan’s paddock and teach her how to embrace the joys of life despite the dangers of living."

Says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate: "Too often, we underestimate the power of the human-animal bond, brushing aside relationships that are available to us. We shy away from difficulty, from pain, from commitment and challenge. But there, in the times that seem most unbearable, we find the very things we seek: connection and love. In 'Chosen by a Horse,' we are offered the opportunity to follow the journey one woman makes when she accepts the inevitable hardships that come with sharing the pain of another, and to witness the outcomes that are possible."

In Central Iowa, the book club session will be moderated by Ashley Anderson, KPA-CTP, Paws & Effect's lead dog trainer.  With more than a decade of experience as an equestrienne, Ashley brings forward an understanding of the ways in which horses and dogs benefit from their relationships with their caretakers—and us from them.  More often than not, Ashley is chosen by a myriad of animals, each being escorted to their next loving home.

AUG. 6, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. Barnes & Noble Shoppes At Three Fountains 4550 University Avenue West Des Moines, IA 50266

If sold out on the shelves, the book may be ordered via the store, or via the Barnes & Noble website here.


In Western North Carolina, the book club session will be moderated by Susan Knapp, the founder and executive director of Heart of Horse Sense. Located on 110 acres in Marshall, North Carolina, Heart of Horse Sense is the charitable component of Horse Sense of the Carolinas, an internationally recognized leader in the field of Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning (EAPL). Susan brings a longstanding commitment for experiential learning which fosters life skills and character development. Heart of Horse Sense extends EAPL opportunities to children and veterans at no cost.

DATE & TIME TO BE ANNOUNCED Horse Sense of the Carolinas, Inc. 6919 Meadows Town Road Marshall, North Carolina 28753

Book Club May 21: 'The Empathy Exams'

empathy examsThe next Paws & Effect Book Club selection is a collection of non-fiction essays "The Empathy Exams" by Leslie Jamieson. Winner of a Greywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, the collection explores empathy in an age full of media, technology, poverty, and violence. An editorial review of the book states:

Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison's visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another's pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed?

"At its heart, everything that Paws & Effect does—through its volunteers, its service animals, Pet Partners, and other programs—relates to improving how we relate to each other," says Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "This book is a natural fit for engaging in that conversation."

The book club discussion will take place starting 6:30 p.m., Sun., May 21, at Barnes & Noble, Shoppes At Three Fountains 4550 University Ave, West Des Moines, Iowa.

The book is available at Barnes & Noble, and via the company website here.

We are Charity Partner to 8 'Hero Dog' Nominees!

hero-dog-awardsPaws & Effect is the proud charity partner of eight therapy dogs nominated as finalists in the 2016 Hero Dog Awards, conducted annually by the American Humane Association. Therapy dogs are socialized and trained to provide assistance to more than just one person. As a charity partner, the Des Moines, Iowa-based non-profit will be awarded up to $2,500 if any of these dogs achieves the highest number of on-line votes in their category.

Voting ends 12 noon Pacific Time April 27, 2016. You can see the entire ballot and vote here. You can vote in each category once per day. In last year's contest, more than 1.5 million on-line votes were cast by the public.

Paws & Effect also has a connection to Hunter, a 2016 Hero Dog nominee in the service dog category. Service dogs are trained to perform tasks for specific individuals, in order to mitigate diagnosed physical and/or mental conditions.

Established in 2006, Paws & Effect is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. Paws & Effect also hosts Pet Partner training courses and evaluations, supporting therapy teams throughout the state of Iowa. Paws & Effect is widely known for its dog agility programs, where children may complete their physical, occupational, and speech therapy while taking a therapy dog through an agility course.

Paws & Effect is charity partner for the following therapy dog nominees, presented here in ballot order:

  • Sam, a 7-year-old Labrador mix from Saluda, N.C., who visits veterans, retirement facilities, hospitals, hospice centers, schools and libraries four to five times a week
  • Tulip, a rescued American Pit Bull Terrier from Raleigh, N.C., whose favorite place is a special-needs school, where many children have autism, Down syndrome, or have had traumatic experiences. Tulip visits for their reading program and to help give them comfort and support.
  • Ellie Belly Sugar Jelly, a certified therapy animal from Belleville, Mich., who visits hospitals, senior centers and libraries.
  • Jeanie, a three-legged rescue from Lake Charles, La., who visits hospitals, nursing homes, reading programs, and veteran’s homes, where "she is a hit with fellow amputees." She also comforts children at an advocacy center, as they are questioned by investigators in abuse cases.
  • Skooter, a Labrador/shepherd mix from Livermore, Calif., who got his accidental start as a therapy dog when providing assistance to an ailing marathon runner. He now has more than 100 volunteer hours working with veterans, senior citizens, and children.
  • Karma, a rescued Great Pyrenees who was originally trained in prison to guard an equine therapy herd. Instead, the dog from Webster Groves, Mo. demonstrated an ability to connect with troubled adolescents.
  • Jake, a 12-year-old dog from Yukon, Okla. who works to provide comfort to those who are physically or emotionally distressed, including people in hospital or mass trauma sites. "As a senior dog, Jake’s calm and patient demeanor with patients is so amazing to watch," his nomination reads.
  • Sky, a fluffy Husky rescue from Hollywood, Md., who works with veterans and hospice patients, who has brought voice and howls of laughter to those he has visited.

Reminder: Voting ends 12 noon Pacific Time April 27, 2016. You can see the entire ballot and vote here. You can vote in each category once per day.

Winning 'One Heart, Four Paws' Haiku Announced

At its February 2016 "One Heart, Four Paws" event, Central Iowa non-profit Paws & Effect announced the winners of the haiku contest celebrating the connections among animals and humans. The event was held at the Blank Park Zoo, 7401 S.W. 9th Street, Des Moines, Iowa., and featured the book launch for Missouri author Heddie Wittlin-Leger's "Hero to the Rescue.". For more information about the "Hero to the Rescue" book launch, click here.

Established in 2006 and based in Des Moines, Paws & Effect 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 group also registers therapy animals through Pet Partners, and regularly hosts NADAC-sanctioned dog-agility events for fun and fund-raising. Its Beaverdale neighborhood storefront also serves as a training center, as well as home base to Troop 232 of the Dog Scouts of America.

"We were very pleased with how much emotion and even humor people were able to communicate in just a few, carefully selected words," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "The poems selected for recognition convey just how interconnected we all are."

Poems were selected by journalist-turned-poet Randy Brown, author of "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire."

Winners of the 2016 haiku contest were:

Neil Ruddy, Carlisle, Iowa First place

1. Dog either sits and won’t move, or pulls like she's in the Iditarod.

2. As we walk through the brown trees, the dog's leash scrapes off and scatters their seeds.

3. Be mindful of pets, for they will forever be mindful of you, too.

4. Your pet's job is to bear witness; to love you just for being alive.

5. If you want to have the best seat in the house, you'll have to move the cat.

Sydney Devine, Des Moines, Iowa Second place

1. Chirping birds outside. Little lion through the glass. Together, watching.

2. Big green eyes looking. Fluffy black fur, gentle paw. Curious, my friend.

3. Footprints in the snow, a companion in the cold. In moonlight, we go.

Angie & Chelsea Sloan, Corydon, Iowa Honorable mention

These dogs fill my heart: Casha, Draco, and Ollie weather storms with me.

Winning poems were assembled into a 9-page booklet designed and produced by Eric Shumate, and were distributed at the event. Awardees will receive copies by postal mail. Remaining copies are available for $5 each. Request via e-mail Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate: nicoleshumate@paws-effect.org

Pet-friendly 'El Dia de Los Muertos' 12-3 p.m., Sat., Oct. 24

A pet-friendly celebration of El Dia de Los Muertos ("The Day of the Dead") will be hosted by Central Iowa non-profit Paws & Effect at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale, Iowa, from 12 noon to 3 p.m., Sat., Oct. 24. El Dia de Las Meurtos is a traditional holiday that originates in Mexico, during which family and friends gather to remember and celebrate their ancestors and other loved ones. It is usually observed close to Halloween.

"We share our lives with pets and people," says Nicole Shumate, executive director of Paws & Effect.  "Paws & Effect wants to create an opportunity to join together as a community, remembering and cherishing all those whose lives have touched ours."

A procession and blessing of the animals will take place at 1:30 p.m. A photographer will be on hand to take "family" photos for a free-will donation. Costumes are encouraged!

Live music will be provided. Food, beer, T-shirts, and other wares will be available for sale during the event. Cost for the event is $15, which includes one beer ticket and one pint glass.

Established in 2006, Paws & Effect is a Des Moines, Iowa-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. The group also registers therapy animals through Pet Partners, and regularly hosts NADAC-sanctioned dog-agility events for fun and fund-raising. Its new Beaverdale neighborhood storefrontalso serves as a training center, as well as home base to Troop 232 of the Dog Scouts of America.

No (April) Foolin' Around!

Paws & Effect is excited to offer pet dog classes! We've brought together an experienced staff and some new-to-Des Moines opportunities.  With a commitment to positive and clicker training, community members can now benefit from the same techniques as our service dogs and Pet Partner therapy teams.

Paws & Effect is excited to introduce Ashley Anderson and Haylee Bergeland, who will be joining Heddie Leger, Nicole Shumate and Eric Shumate.  This well-rounded team brings various backgrounds and experiences, creating a fun dynamic.

Ashley is our lead service dog trainer, the first Iowa Karen Pryor Academy graduate with her certification as a training professional (KPA-CPT).  Years of showing her own dogs in rally, obedience and agility gives Ashley an understanding of what is expected in the show ring, offset by her practical experiences raising and training service dogs (give Ashley a big congratulations on her recent accomplishment of raising the first ever clicker trained guide dog for Guide Dogs for the Blind)!

Haylee joins Paws & Effect with experience training shelter and rescue dogs.  She has worked as a training coordinator and behavior specialist for a large sized shelter, overseeing the development of dogs after they were adopted.  Haylee has an Associate Degree in Animal Science with an emphasis in animal behavior and husbandry.

Heddie comes to Paws & Effect with a Certification for Pet Dog Trainers-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA).  With years of experience as a dog trainer for Missouri's Puppies For Parole, Heddie combines her vast Pet Partner and Dog Scout knowledge as an instructor and evaluator for both organizations.

Nicole brings more than a decade of experience as a Pet Partner evaluator and instructor, with a never-ending enthusiasm.  Originally (and still wholeheartedly!) a Denver Pet Partner, she has a keen eye for making the most of what our dogs bring to our lives.  Eric is also a Pet Partner evaluator and instructor, bringing his perspective to Paws & Effect after serving for many years on the National Pet Partner Committee.

Classes will run over six weeks at a cost of $100, meeting once each week for an hour with a limit of six students.  Discounts are extended to veterans, military members, Pet Partners and Paws & Effect service dog recipients. Check out our training page for information and to register for all of our classes by clicking here!

We're looking forward to meeting you (and your dog) soon!

Welcome, Daniel!

Paws & Effect would like to take this opportunity to officially welcome Daniel Gorchals as the Director of Operations!

Daniel was born and raised in Central Wisconsin. Shortly after graduating high school he enlisted in the United States Air Force. Daniel was a Security Forces member as well as a marksman in his career field. His specialty was the personal protection of foreign and domestic dignitaries. Daniel served all four years of his Active Duty Service Overseas to include Europe and the Middle East.

Daniel's duties will include fundraising, public speaking, peer support, and a positive public presence with his Service Dog "Arlington". Daniel brings a large skill set and eagerness to this organization and is an incredible asset to our mission. We couldn't be happier to have him with us!  Feel free to contact him at danielgorchals@paws-effect.org.

Register for 2nd Annual 'Service Dog People Jog' 5K!

Reposting this reminder from last month ...

Thanks to the terrific turnout at 2013's inaugural Service Dog People Jog, we're excited to announce this year's event! Paws & Effect's Service Dog People Jog 5K run and walk is set for Sunday, June 8 at 9 a.m. at Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines, Iowa. 
The Youth Dash/Run is set for 10 a.m. (FREE for kids 12 and under).
The Service Dog People Jog (SDPJ) is a 5K walk/run benefiting Paws & Effect, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. P&E raises, trains, and places professionally-trained service dogs with disabled veterans and children. Proceeds not only allow P&E to fulfill their mission, but also help to ensure that recipients receive service dogs free of charge.
Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Paws & Effect and will assist with the care and placement of P&E service dogs to veterans and children with disabilities. The funds raised will also elp to ensure that service dogs are placed at no cost to recipients.

Register through our friends at GetMeRegistered! Registration fees provide entry to the 5K and trophies (awarded for designated categories). Following the race, you'll enjoy a root beer float in a custom Paws & Effect glass (yours to keep!) along with an array of snacks. You’ll also hear from veteran recipients of Paws & Effect service dogs.

Children ages 12 & under are free.

You can also purchase Paws & Effect T-shirts for $20 at the event.


Saturday, June 7, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location will be announced soon.

Sunday, June 8, 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Raccoon River Park, Coneflower Shelters


Chips will be picked up the morning of the 5K from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. All chip timers will be collected at the finish line. A fee will be charged for chips not turned in at the end of the race.


Prizes will be awarded to the top finishers. Categories will be announced soon.


Registrants will receive an email with specific details concerning the 5K. You can also keep informed about Paws & Effect through our website, our Facebook page, and the ServiceDog People Jog event page.

For more information about the 5K, or to find out more about Paws & Effect, email info@paws-effect.org.

PLEASE NOTE: No refunds will be issued in the event of inclement weather or other unforseen challenges whereas the event would need to be cancelled.

Paws & Effect's Spring Fling Agility Trial

The Paws & Effect Spring Fling dog agility trial is almost here. Download the premium and enter today. Prepare to have a teriffic time — and look forward to a great way to spend time with your pup enjoying the beautiful May weather, too! 
Saturday, May 3, 2014 and Sunday, May 4, 2014
Camp Dodge, Johnston, IA

It's that time of year ...

It's that time of year to starting preparing for Paws & Effect's Winter Classic dog agility trial. 
Get your premium here. Download it, fill it out and you'll officially be registered to run your dog in the the funnest thing this side of the Mississippi. I kid you not.
Previous years have seen record low temperatures but it's always heated up once we get to running the brilliant NADAC courses. 
Don't miss out. You'll regret it. Sign up today.
Download Premium (word doc) or (PDF).

Battle Buddies — Breaking Barriers

Paws & Effect service dog, Honor, gives some love to his recipient, Wade. True battle buddies!

This picture — this love — is the reason we dedicate our lives to providing professionally-trained service dogs to deserving recipients.

Everyone deserves freedom. Sometimes the obstacles standing in the way of true freedom are unseen, often misunderstood. We aim to help break through those barriers, bringing people back into the light — back to living life.