"More Wags for Warriors" Campaign
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 Warriors” 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.”
A Legacy of Appreciation
More Dogs Trained.
Perhaps you’ve been moved to say to someone, “Thank you for your service.” Or maybe you have a family member who served in the military and you would like a way to honor them. Now is your chance to thank our military personnel and wounded warriors with a “Naming Sponsorship.”
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs’ (SMSD) “More Wags for Warriors” Facilities Campaign is in full swing. Volunteers are working toward the goal of raising $500,000 to build a new SMSD Veteran/Canine Training Center that will provide the needed capacity to double the number of wounded warriors served by the nonprofit each year.
As part of the capital campaign, SMSD is offering “Naming Sponsorships.” All facilities will be appropriately named per donor request:
- Indoor Veteran Training Room: $175,000
- Kennel Building: 18 dogs: $175,000
- Conference/Meeting Room: $10,000
- Individual Indoor Kennels: $7,500
- Grooming Area: $7,500
- Food Prep Area: $7,500
- Medical/Exam Area: $7,500
- Outdoor Kennel Runs: $2,000
SMSD has been awarded Gold Star Accreditation by Assistance Dogs International. This validates that the facilities and operation of the SMSD program meets or exceeds ADI standards.
A Salute to Air Force Veteran Billy Marshall and his SMSD "Lucy"
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs "Tribute to Our Military"
Each Smoky Mountain Service Dog puppy is hand selected by our trainers and the majority will come from reputable breeders. Appropriate shelter/rescue dogs may also be considered.
Vietnam Veteran/Volunteer Dennis Tissot and SMSD Canines in Training
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs now accepting Preliminary Applications.