SMSD currently operates out of a facility in Lenoir City, near Knoxville, TN, on a 10-acre site. This property houses a small kennel and a caretaker’s home, but it has no on-site, indoor training facilities. “This has been our biggest challenge,” said Mike Kitchens, regretfully. Mike is the Volunteer Chairperson for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs (SMSD). Weather is always an issue. As a result, volunteers and trainers must take the dogs to off-site facilities for training, such as shopping malls, churches, and other locations throughout the community that support SMSD’s mission. “It takes about 1,800 hours to train a service dog,” Mike said, “and a lot of time, and gas, is wasted just driving to and from these places.” At the completion of training, the dog is matched with a veteran partner who also needs to be trained. Veteran training takes two weeks and involves classroom work as well as hands-on exercises with the dog. These activities currently depend on off-site facilities as well. “Our vision is to build a Veteran/Canine Training Center that includes an indoor training room for both dogs and veterans, and a much larger, state-of-the-art kennel. “This will greatly enhance our capabilities,” Mike stated. “With our new facility, we will knock out this major challenge; and, simultaneously, it will allow us to double the number of wounded veterans we serve each year.” The new SMSD Training Center plans include: • 18-dog kennel with indoor and outdoor runs • Indoor veteran training center • Feeding and grooming rooms • Medical examination room • Offices for trainers The estimated cost of the new facility is approximately $500,000. “We’ve kicked off our “More Wags for War- riors” campaign to raise the needed funds to make this dream a reality for our veterans and their families,” Mike said. “Their dedication and tremendous sacrifice is what motivates all of us. We’re blessed to be able to give back to them.” “MORE WAGS FOR WARRIORS” CAMPAIGN To Build New SMSD Training Facility This expansion will double the number of veterans served each year. To learn more or make a donation, please visit SERVING WOUNDED WARRIORS