4 Paws for Ability to unveil new $3M facility

The non-profit organization that trains service dogs for children and veterans with disabilities is hosting an open house from 1-5 p.m. that day to show off its new $3 million building.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be at 1 p.m.

Xenia city officials, 4 Paws staff and major donors will be among the dignitaries on hand for the event. Entertainment will be provided courtesy of Musica, Dayton’s Chamber Choir.

“Every morning when I pull up and see the building, it’s really hard to believe that it’s actually here and knowing what we’ll be able to do with this facility compared to what we couldn’t do before,” said Karen Shirk, CEO and founder of 4 Paws. “It’s just fantastic.”

Shirk started the non-profit in her apartment in 1998 and 18 years later, she now oversees the operation in its newly-built 13,000-square-foot state-of-the-art kennel and remodeled 6,000-square-foot training center.

4 Paws is on track to place its 1,000th dog in March. It has dogs in every state except North and South Dakota, and in nine countries, Shirk said.

It takes about 18 months to train a dog for a child, and costs at least $22,000.

Those who attend Sunday’s open house will see enhanced features in the general area of the facility; offices; training center; kennels; vet suite; and exterior.

“It really is a big change,” 4 Paws Dr. Kevin Corcoran said. “We’re going to meet the needs of our clients. We’re really happy to see this renovation and expansion near completion.”

The building was designed to allow 4 Paws to serve more families each year. Shirk said the new facility couldn’t wait, so the organization took out a $3 million loan to pay for the project.

4 Paws has raised $1 million already, and hopes to raise the remaining $2 million in the next couple of years while it is still on a fixed rate.

“We’re doing our capital campaign in reverse,” Shirk said. “We looked at the life-saving abilities of the dogs and the amount of applications we have coming in, and we knew if we didn’t build now, we would have to say no to people or tell them to wait five years. Those weren’t viable options for us.”

Those interested in donating can send 4 Paws a check, visit www.4pawsforability.org or call 937-374-0385.

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