A leading nonprofit provider of assistance dogs is ready to break ground on a $21 million campus in New Albany.
The new Canine Companions for Independence facility will include training rooms, kennels and 16 wheelchair-accessible guest rooms for disabled people who are matched with dogs.The new facility expands the organization's capacity from its location off Interstate 71 in Delaware.
Molly Schultz, spokeswoman for the central Ohio office of California-based Canine Companions, said the group plans to sell the Delaware location after it moves into the New Albany campus, which is expected in late 2020.
The new facility at 7480 New Albany Condit Road will have nearly seven times the space of Canine Companions' location since 1990, at 4989 State Route 37 East in Delaware.
Schultz said the extra space under roof and the 16-acre site would allow the local operation to expand the scope and number of people served and give those who are coming to be paired with a dog a convenient and free place to stay during their required two-week training period.
Canine Companions pairs people who have disabilities other than blindness with companion dogs. The dogs can retrieve items for people in wheelchairs or alert people with hearing problems to sounds such as doorbells or alarms.
The group also has started training animals to assist people who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"The move will allow us to expand and be on a quieter road," said Schultz, noting that the Delaware location has become increasingly busy with development. She said having free accommodations for clients at the campus would be a benefit. The Delaware location is one of six for Canine Companions, and it is the second-busiest, behind the one at the group's headquarters in Santa Rosa, California, Schultz said. The organization places more than 350 dogs per year nationwide.
The North Central territory stretches from western Pennsylvania to the Dakotas, and as far south as Kentucky and Kansas. There's typically a waiting list of over a year to get a dog from the organization.
Canine Companions is supported mainly by donations from individuals. The New Albany project was granted $750,000 in the most-recent state budget; Schultz said that fundraising continues for the remaining $8 million needed for the $21 million project.
Schultz said that Jack Kessler, chairman of the New Albany Co., which developed much of New Albany in conjunction with L Brands founder Leslie H. Wexner, secured much of the land for the project. Kessler's daughter, Katie Chatas, raises puppies as a volunteer for Canine Companions, Schultz said.