Lou Hayes has been training dogs for much of her life and she’s been training service animals for the last 12 years. But it wasn’t until a year ago that she opened Service Animals For You, a non-profit organization that does one-on-one animal training, to the public.
Hayes is a retired police officer who used to do K-9 training for the police department. She now has one leg and a service dog of her own. She has taken Dog Whisperer leadership training, and is listed in the Delta Society service animal trainer directory.
Hayes said she used to tell people to go to the trainer site when they were looking for animal trainers, but started working with individual people and their animals to meet local demand.
“There is a big need for them,” Hayes said. “People need an affordable animal.”
Hayes said that her training usually works out to 10 percent the cost of most out-of-state trainings and the dogs she helps train don’t spend a year acclimating to another person. She said with non-local programs, an animal bonds with an out-of-state trainer and has to readjust to their primary owner when it’s shipped to them. This period of readjustment is bad for the dog and the consumer, she said.
Hayes said the “most important thing” with service dog ownership, though, is picking the right breed for the work it will do. She said that people thinking about getting a service animal should contact her or another trainer before buying the dog, because fitting the right breed to the right task is crucial.
In addition to training service animals, Services Animals For You also offers obedience training.
Service Animals For You is located at 648 South Ave. E, Missoula, MT Phone: (406) 210-9009 E-mail: email@example.com