Thursday, August 20, 2015

Iowa-trained Service Dog Safe Following Shooting Incident

Wade Baker with service dog Honor, March 2012. PHOTO: © Paws & Effect

On Wed., Aug. 19, 2015 Paws & Effect was notified by canine I.D. chip-tracking vendor HomeAgain that its 6-year-old service dog, a black Labrador named "Honor," was recovered by law enforcement authorities in North Carolina. The dog is safe and healthy.

Established in 2006, Paws & Effect is a Des Moines, Iowa-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs.

According to law enforcement and media reports, Wade Allen Baker, 44, formerly of Marshalltown, Iowa, was involved in a Waynesville, N.C. church shooting incident that occurred on Wed., Aug. 19, 2015. Baker reportedly died during this incident.

Paws & Effect placed service dog "Honor" with Baker in March 2012, after he was referred by a treating physician at Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Iowa City, Iowa. He attended an intensive 2-week dog handler training course in March 2012, and, like all Paws & Effect handlers, had regular follow-up communication with Paws & Effect regarding dog training and handling. While still located in Iowa, he occasionally assisted with Paws & Effect's efforts to educate the public regarding service dog use and access.

According to Baker's service record, he served in the U.S. Army from approximately August 1989 to November 1998. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was mechanized infantryman, and he received an honorable discharge. His military awards include the following, as well as others:
  • Army Commendation Award (2nd award)
  • Army Achievement Medal
  • Joint Meritorious Unit Service Award
  • Good Conduct Medal (3rd award)
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Southwest Asia Service Medal with 3 Bronze Service Star
  • Armed Forces Service Medal
  • Overseas Service Ribbon
  • Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
  • Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate, along with the non-profit's board of directors, worked with North Carolina agencies to ensure safe return of Honor to the Baker family. "The loss of life of this veteran is tragic and devastating for his family. We are thankful that there was reportedly no further injury or loss of life to law enforcement and the public. Service dog Honor has been returned to the family to continue in his roles of stress reducer, supporter, and loved family member."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Club Selection Speaks to Paws & Effect Mission

The Paws & Effect Book Club selection for September 2015 is "Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process" by Irene Pepperberg.

Pepperberg, a scientist who studies animal cognition, tells the story of Alex—short for "Avian Learning Experiment"—an African Grey parrot who mastered a vocabulary of more than 100 words, and was able to answer questions about colors, shapes, and objects.

In her research, Pepperberg indicated that Alex's language abilities were comparable to those of dolphins and great apes. In the book, she also tells of other avian examples of intelligence and understanding.

"Paws & Effect is deeply committed to celebrating and contributing to research about the human-animal bond, and the roles that animals can play in our lives," says Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "That's why our book club uses titles like 'Alex & Me' as foundations for discussion. That's why we're partnering with brain researchers at Des Moines University. And that's why our latest litter of future service dogs is named to honor individuals such as co-founder of Pet Partners Leo Bustad; primatologist Jane Goodall; and animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin. In addition to 'Leo,' 'Goodall,' and 'Grandin,' we have our own 'Alex'!"

The book club discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 17, 2015 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa.

The library is located on East 14th Street, between Grandview and Morton Avenues. For directions to campus and maps, click here.

The book is also available available on Kindle format.