Dog training

A non-profit dog training organization wants to put its paws on a new space

STUARTS DRAFT, Va. (WHSV) – Positive Paws K9 Angels is a nonprofit organization based in Augusta County.

They provide training and socialization for therapy dogs and they have many community partnerships with schools, nursing homes and prisons. PPK9 quickly became a staple in the valley.

“Our therapy dogs are very sensitive creatures, and they always seem to gravitate towards whoever needs them the most. It’s good to give back to the community,” said Executive Director Christine Lawhorne.

Crucial training and socialization took place in a Stuarts Draft building until almost a month ago.

“We were told at around 1.30am on a Friday June 24 that we were unable to open that following Monday. We had customers picking up their dogs who were completely in tears,” Lawhorne said.

Their owner had decided to sell the property. The group made an offer, but it was turned down.

“We constantly get emails about reopening,” she said.

With the group losing their space, PPK9’s belongings are in a storage unit and they cannot go to schools or camps at this time. It’s something they and many locals miss.

“I have seen with my own eyes the reaction of patients in the hospital or children when we go to Camp LIGHT. They line up at every building ahead of us,” said Shelli Crust, socialization manager.

Crust believed so deeply in PPK9’s mission that she quit her 20-year job to join the team. The service rendered by their dogs is lacking in their frequented places.

“It goes to the kids in school, it goes to the people in the prison, it goes to the people in the nursing home who pick us up every week when we come in,” Lawhorne said.

Their volunteers share their passion. Many of them are eagerly waiting for PPK9 to find space and reopen so they can get back to work.

“We have a gentleman who has accompanied us for many, many years. It’s his daily job. He and his family are so heartbroken because he no longer has a job every day,” Lawhorne said.

They also worked closely with the Woodrow Wilson workforce.

“They sent us students to come and learn these professional skills. Obviously, since we don’t have a building, we don’t have a place where they can come, and we had to cut that off as well,” Lawhorne said.

They said they were looking for a space with a tall building and at least five acres of land. They would like to buy, but they are open for renting at the moment.

Positive Paws is also fundraising to help them relocate. If you would like to contribute to this cause, click here. In the meantime, they have teamed up with Blue Ridge Therapy Dogs to continue their training.

They hope to start training again in the next few weeks for everyone who was already registered.

The staff said they were looking forward to one main thing: seeing their dogs again.

To view their website, click here. Their Facebook page is linked here.

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