We encourage others to find their purpose.
When you volunteer with ICAN, you’re making a difference in the lives of children and adults with disabilities, inmates, and their families.
People with disabilities and inmates face restrictions, but we want both groups to feel accepted.
Since 2002, it’s been our mission to support, encourage, and celebrate people who might otherwise struggle to find their purpose or hope in the future.
Our service dogs bring this hope (and a lot of smiles) to our clients and handlers. And the volunteers who work with our dogs-in-training have seen firsthand how these animals can positively impact so many people.
There are so many ways you can volunteer with ICAN:
Click on a link below to learn more!
At 16 weeks, our puppies go to the prisons to work with inmate handlers. Every six weeks, they’re “furloughed,” which means they come out of the prison to work with volunteers. For about three weeks, the service dog-in-training will go everywhere with you, after which we’ll bring the puppy back to its handler. During your time as a furlough, you’ll teach valuable life experiences to service dogs-in-training, reinforce the cues and behaviors the dog already knows, and provide detailed reports back to our staff.
Before you furlough, you’ll attend eight classes and learn skills and cues to work with dogs. These sessions are two hours long (for a total of 16 training hours). You'll also need permission from your school/workplace and housing prior to registering for furlough class. Please note: We require you to attend at least six monthly refresher training courses so you can learn modified cues and network with other furlough volunteers.
Please remember that our dogs are still learning and may display inappropriate behaviors in public. It's your job to respond appropriately and report the dog's positive AND negative behaviors to our staff.
We require our volunteers to furlough at least three times per year and have no more than two other dogs at home, with the youngest being at least a year old.
You may need to pick up, drop off, and visit the Indianapolis area for events, furloughs, and vet visits. You can volunteer anywhere in Indiana, but you'll need to be willing to readily transport your dog to,from, and around Indy/Speedway/Pendleton/Zionsville and attend evening furlough meetings.
We encourage our furlough volunteers to participate in ICAN’s Outreach Program, where a dog-in-training will accompany them to presentations, meet-and-greets, and community events.
Puppy raisers help us provide rich socialization experiences for puppies while they’re eight to 16 weeks old. You'll also help the dog-in-training build trust and positive associations with the world, as well as go through potty training, cues, and crate training.
The puppy will live with you full time and go to work, church, school, and outings with you.
We require puppy raisers to first be trained as a furlough volunteer (two hours each week, for a total of 16 training hours) to help you feel more prepared to provide environmental exposure for a dog-in-training. Puppy raisers are also required to attend weekly puppy classes during the time they are puppy raising.
Puppy raisers have access to puppy raising classes and materials. You'll also have access to the Closed ICAN Furlough Facebook group and monthly continuing education meetings.
You can help us bring puppies with purpose into our training program! Service dogs must have the right temperament and health, and we need caring volunteers to provide a healthy, loving home for breeding females and their puppies. If you live within an hour of Indianapolis and can do the following, you might make a great litter host:
- Learn about whelping (female dogs giving birth).
- Take the mama dog into your home two weeks before her due date.
- Whelp puppies in your home (help the female give birth).
- Keep the mama dog and her litter in your home for at least three weeks post-whelp.
- Take the dog to and from breeding sessions and medical appointments.
- Provide ongoing care, food, and routine medical requirements for the mama dog and her pups.
- Work with our team of staff and volunteers (litter sitters) to provide environmental enrichment experiences.
- Work with the puppies until they are eight weeks old (at which point we’ll help you transfer them to a puppy raiser for socialization experiences).
While our team will support you every step of the way, we understand that becoming a litter host is a major long-term commitment. If you’d like to help in a smaller (yet still valuable!) role, you can volunteer as a litter sitter once new puppies arrive.
A Litter Sitter is responsible for assisting the Litter Host in completing all tasks with the new puppies. This includes environmental enrichment activities, teaching the puppies to eat solid food, cleaning the pool/pen and attending to the dam, etc. Each week has different activities for the puppies based on their development. In the later weeks, there will be outings away from the Host’s home such as car rides, visits to other homes, meeting new dogs or cats, and trips to view people and activities outside stores. And of course, you will get to cuddle the pups!
People love getting valentines, especially when they come from an adorable puppy! For our Puppy Love Valentine project, our volunteers make a six-week commitment from January 1 to February 14. Leading up to Valentine’s Day, you’ll help us pack boxes full of treats and gifts. During the holiday, you’ll deliver cookies, candy, balloons, dog art, scarves, and more.
You can also assist us with Puppy Love Year Round, where we make special deliveries for any occasion (birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations, etc.). Teams of two make these deliveries along with a dog-in-training. Puppy Love Year Round brings smiles to the hearts of many, and most importantly, it allows us to share with others about the work ICAN is doing to unleash abilities and change lives.
Throughout the year, businesses volunteer their time and talent by assisting us with short-term projects. For example, one team volunteered their time to fold, assemble, and package 15,000 greeting cards, while another participated in our dog art days for Puppy Love Valentines.
Employees also get involved through their employee giving or corporate match program, where dollars can be designated to ICAN. There are many ways your company can participate in a service project to support our mission!
Are you interested in volunteering?
Email us your interest or questions and we'll be sure to connect quickly.
Periodically, we will have a need for an intern to assist our organization with set projects.
While ICAN internships are often without pay, our goal is to provide meaningful work experience and/or satisfy the requirements of a credit-based internship.
Students are required to give a minimum of 135 hours per internship. At this time, we do not offer internships in the area of canine training. But we sometimes have internships in marketing, event management, and human services.
Email us for information regarding future opportunities!
train and care for
life-changing service dogs.