Partners and Paws Fall 2023

A message from Cabell

It is my favorite event of the year: Saint Francis Graduation! I have been the Executive Director at Saint Francis for twenty years, and Graduation never gets old. I just love it. Hope and joy run in a strong current through the day, with pride and gratitude as the top notes. It’s the best. This Graduation is particularly poignant, because the dogs graduating today began their journey at Saint Francis over two years ago at the height of the pandemic. We were still setting records for numbers of cases in 2021. Obviously, the pandemic impacted all of us in many ways. For Saint Francis, it was impossible to continue puppy classes, training sessions, and candidate classes as we had done in the past. Our staff worked from home or in odd shifts to keep apart. Many veterinary offices closed unless it was an emergency. Many dog breeders took a pause in breeding puppies, due to supply chain worries and lack of quick access to medical care. For many of our partners, COVID exposure was especially dangerous due to underlying conditions. Thanks to all of you, we were able to meet the challenge. With the support of our board of directors and key donors, we were able to construct a pavilion debt-free, where we could safely hold puppy classes, training sessions, and matching interviews. The men of our Prison Pup Program stepped up, led their own classes, and helped each other raise their dogs when we were unable to go

into prison due to COVID lockdowns. Our candidates enthusiastically participated in Zoom classes and trainings, despite it being new to many of us. Our staff found new ways to operate, including building entirely new programs to keep our training pipeline open. I know it’s nice to think of those times as long passed. But for us, this graduating class, which got their start right in the nitty gritty of it, is truly a testament to the resiliency of our dogs, partners, programs, staff, volunteers, and supporters, who stuck by us through it all. We could not be more thrilled or proud to be here on the other side with these teams, and with all we learned from the experience building us to an even brighter future…together. Through a journey that challenged all of us, these dog have found their forever people, families, and purpose. None of it could have happened without the more than one thousand people who gave of themselves to enable us to produce these kind, gentle, smart and healthy dogs. From puppy raisers, sitters, dog walkers, and professional trainers, to donors, corporate partners, and grantors, we cannot do what we do without you. Because of you, we are able to provide these incredible animals, along with training and lifetime support to our partners at no cost to them. It is an amazing privilege to be the stewards of your generosity, and I can’t wait for you to read on and meet the extraordinary people and the exceptional dogs that you allow us to serve.

“We could not be more thrilled or proud to be on the other side with these teams... and building a brighter future together.”

Executive Director


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