110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Angels can come with four paws
posted Jun 28, 2013 - 11:31:21am
A farm that once held horses just outside of DeLand, now shelters dogs, and holds a new purpose.
Chris Tejcek, founder of Angels With Paws, a nonprofit organization that provides trained service animals to those in need, said that she saw a great need for service animals.
"I realized there was never going to be enough people to provide service dogs to people with disabilities," Tejcek said.
The dogs they started out with were donated by various breeders. Now, through rescuing and breeding, Angels With Paws has been able to provide about 25 service dogs to the needy since opening the kennel in 2009, according to Tejcek.
Once the dogs are completely trained, the dogs themselves choose their owners. Tejcek explains the reason behind the dog choosing is that the dog has to be completely committed to the person it is providing the service to.
"If the dogs don't see the sun rise and set in you, then it won't matter if you're having a bad day," Tejcek said. "But when they choose you, they will do everything they can for you on a bad day."
The entire organization is volunteer-based, with foster parents assuming the care and cost associated with the dogs until they are place with their "forever partner," according to Tejcek.
On June 22, Angels With Paws received a big donation from the Florida Engineering Leadership Institute (FELI), a brand-new service-dog training platform. The platform was completely funded, planned and built by FELI.
Florida Engineering Leadership Institute is a group of engineers who are nominated by their companies to attend six classes and travel and learn from leaders around the state. The class is challenged to help the community by selecting a nonprofit organization and assisting it, according to Luis Tellechea, one of the 28 students in the 2013 FELI class.
Tellechea was the one who proposed Angels With Paws to his classmates.
"We thought it was important because they train numerous dogs throughout their (Angels With Paws) lifetime, and they (the dogs) will help each person through their life," Tellechea said.
Once the class voted to help Angels With Paws, they raised over $10,000 in about two months' time. The money was used to purchase the materials to build the training ramp. The labor was provided by FELI class members and Angels With Paws volunteers.
A check for the remaining $7,000 was presented to Tejcek. The money donated will be used to improve the kennels, which are currently located inside the old horse barn.
"We hope to eventually get a new facility, but until then we will continue to improve this one," Tejcek said.
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