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Canines with a Cause Will Pair Local Veterans with Service Dogs

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It's a program with the goal of taking damaged lives and giving them a second chance. Canines with a Cause trains shelter dogs and gives them a mission to be more than a pet, taking "diamonds in the ruff" and transforming them into service dogs for veterans.

Now they're bringing their services to North Idaho, starting in Lewiston.

Archer barked excitedly as he jumped back and forth at the end of his leash on a crisp Friday morning. He just thought he was going for a walk outside the Lewis-Clark Animal Shelter; he had no idea what kind of journey awaited.

"First pick-up and there's already three vets waiting for these three dogs," Laurie Chambers says. She's here as a canine chauffeur, loading up kennels in her SUV.

Tyler, Molly, and Archer were once highly unadoptable. Now they're on their way to Salt Lake City to unleash their full potential.

"What we do is rescue dogs at shelters," Laurie says, "and and then they go to Orofino prison and the inmates there train them for eight weeks."

It's the newest chapter of a program that started in Utah nine years ago; it's since spread to Nevada, and Laurie is now the "North Idaho chick" who's bringing the program to the inland northwest. While these three dogs are headed to Utah to be paired with veterans, Canines with a Cause is working with veterans organizations in Lewiston so that soon, veterans right here in the LC Valley and surrounding areas will be able to participate.

Canines with a Cause partnered with the Lewis-Clark Animal Shelter, taking three dogs and pairing them with an inmate at the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino.

"They're just trying to give back, for whatever they're there for, to give back to the community," Laurie says of the inmates in the training program.

The shelter has partnered with Orofino before; inmates work with dogs for the P.A.W.S. program, but these canines were trained for a special cause.

"They are beyond thrilled," Laurie says excitedly. "When [the inmates] know that these three dogs are going to vets, they are like...it's amazing. They're so fired up."

Maybe their future is to be a PTSD service dog, or just a trusty friend.

"They go through a six-week training, the veterans do, with the dog trainer just learning about the animal and what to do, what not to do because it's so individualized."

But the mission remains the same: saving three lives - the dog's, the inmate's, and that of the military veteran who has a new companion on the way.

To learn more about Canines with a Cause and their mission to save three lives, check out their website.

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