There are many ways to get involved with ICAN! Opportunities include working hands-on with our service dogs in training or donating time to help with outreach and educational events.
Keep reading to learn more about each of our volunteer roles!
1. Litter Host
ICAN’s litter hosts are responsible for hosting a pregnant female dog in their home for the weeks leading up to her delivery, or whelp. These volunteers are present for the birth of ICAN’s newest service dogs in training and continue to care for the litter until they are eight weeks old.
Hosts are required to shadow our whelping team and assist in whelps and caring for newborn puppies prior to hosting their own litter. Litter hosts are currently ICAN’s largest volunteer need!
2. Furlough Volunteer
Furlough volunteers spend around three weeks at a time with a service dog in training that is anywhere from approximately six months to two years old.
Furloughers continue the dog’s training by exposing them to different lifestyles and activities that they would not get to experience while working with their inmate handler. These volunteers do not teach the dogs any new cues, but instead, their job is to reinforce and practice the cues the dog already knows.
The volunteer will also reinforce appropriate behaviors and work through problematic behaviors, such as barking or jumping. New furlough volunteers will take an eight-week training class before getting their first dog and will work with an experienced mentor for their first few dogs.
3. Puppy Raising
Our puppy raisers are a special type of furlough volunteer that are given the important task of beginning the initial stages of training for our future service dogs. From the ages of eight to 16 weeks, a puppy raiser will teach simple house manners, potty training, and basic cues while exposing the puppies to the world!
Things that seem silly to us are a big deal for puppies that are experiencing the world around them for the first time. Exposing puppies to things like new surfaces, smells, and sounds is crucial in confidence building.
Our puppy raisers often volunteer their time for both the full eight-week puppy-raising period, as well as other short-term opportunities to babysit puppies. Occasionally, the primary raiser is unavailable for short periods of time, so trained volunteers can step in to help with puppy sitting.
Puppy raising is a tough but rewarding job, and the work our raisers do is important in laying the foundation for the next two years of the dog’s training! Plus, who doesn’t love adorable, sweet puppies?
4. Litter Sitters
Want to work hands-on with our dogs in training but are unable to volunteer for extended periods of time? Litter sitting may be the perfect opportunity!
Litter sitting provides our volunteers with the opportunity to visit ICAN’s newest litter of puppies for a couple of hours at a time. Sitters are there as the puppies begin to wean off of their mother and begin to learn how to be away from their siblings, how to eat solid food, and how to be comfortable having their paws and ears touched.
New litter sitters are paired with experienced sitters and many of the tasks include working one-on-one with a sweet, snuggly puppy! Litter sitters are also required to view a virtual training video in advance as well as follow specific COVID and other hygiene protocols in order to keep our new puppies healthy.
These volunteers are also highly encouraged to participate in the 8-week class available to new furlough volunteers, even if they won’t be hosting an ICAN dog in training in their homes.
5. Outreach Volunteers
Our outreach volunteers are important in helping us to spread our mission and teach the community about service dogs.
These teams work with groups of all ages and typically assist in giving an educational presentation and answering audience questions related to ICAN.
This role requires additional training prior to beginning in order to ensure that you are comfortable and confident talking about ICAN! It is also preferred that outreach volunteers are trained furloughers that can bring a service dog in training along with them to events.
6. Special Event Help
We also have plenty of opportunities for individuals who wish to support ICAN without always working hands-on with a service dog in training.
These volunteers have the opportunity to help us with various fundraising and outreach tasks and activities, such as selling calendars at locations around Indianapolis, working check-in tables, creating dog art for Puppy Love Valentines, packaging gift boxes, helping at events, and more. These volunteers are incredibly helpful in ensuring that our events can run smoothly and efficiently!
By choosing to get involved with ICAN, you can be part of our life-changing mission that enriches the lives of people living with disabilities and helps incarcerated individuals find a sense of purpose. We hope you’re able to try one of these volunteer opportunities!
Interested in joining our volunteer team and helping us unleash abilities? Contact us!
ICAN trains and places assistance dogs with individuals in Indiana who have disabilities and provides foundational life skills to inmates through their experience as trainers. To learn more, visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.