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Duo Dogs, Inc. of St. Louis receives Spencer Fane charitable grant to assist in providing service animals to people in need

November 8, 2019

Spencer Fane LLP is pleased to announce Duo Dogs, Inc. as the recipient of the firm’s 2020-2022 charitable grant program in St. Louis.

As part of its charitable grant program, Spencer Fane will donate $50,000 over the next three years to Duo Dogs in support of the organization’s mission to train and connect service dogs with people to cultivate meaningful change in individuals, families and communities. Duo Dogs was formed in the St. Louis area in 1981 and was formerly known as Support Dogs, Inc. In 2018, the name was changed to Duo Dogs to more accurately reflect how each of the organization’s services succeeds due to the unique bond between dogs and humans.

Funds from the grant will be used for at least one of three programs Duo Dogs operates that benefit individuals with hearing or mobility impairments, adults and children receiving treatment and medical care, and children’s literacy programs.

“Duo Dogs values our meaningful corporate relationships, and our leaders look forward to teaming with Spencer Fane to ensure effective use of this generous donation,” said Peggy Musen, executive director for Duo Dogs. “Our current growth plan will increase the number of dogs at our facilities from 18 to 24 during the advanced training period, and this will require additional kennel staff members. Without generous giving from those in the St. Louis community, including Spencer Fane, we wouldn’t be able to grow in this manner.”

Duo Dogs employs a paid staff of 15 and is governed by a 15-member board of directors. Currently, there are more than 700 volunteers involved with the organization.

The three programs that serve the community and others in need are the Assistance Dog Program, TOUCH Therapy Dog Program, and Paws for Reading Program.

The Assistance Dog Program involves whelping, raising, training, placing (at no cost to the recipient) and monitoring specially trained dogs to partner with an adult or child with a hearing- or mobility-related impairment. All dogs are trained to perform 35 core tasks, with the ability to distinguish up to 200 specific requests that best suit the human partner and the capability to alert the partner to certain sounds in his or her environment.

In addition, Duo Dogs places specially trained “Facility Dogs,” which have handlers at locations like child advocacy centers, prosecuting attorney’s offices, public defender’s offices, and other facilities where the presence of a specially trained dog can help with the delivery of therapy services and ease the stress of witnesses or victims of crime during trial or deposition.

The TOUCH Therapy Dog Program involves training and certifying volunteers who bring their own dogs to participate in the program. This involves volunteer teams visiting senior living and health care facilities to provide companionship to adults and children receiving care or treatment, at no cost to the host facility.

The Paws for Reading Program involves volunteers bringing their own dogs to Duo Dogs to be trained and certified as part of a teacher-led elementary school literacy program. Students in need of a boost in reading skills can interact with and read to the dog in an effort to increase participation in literacy programs at school and recreational reading at home. There is no cost to the host school or students served.

All of the TOUCH Therapy and Paws for Reading volunteer services and about two-thirds of assistance dog placements are with clients or facilities within the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan area.

“We love the difference this organization makes in our community and specifically the benefit for individuals involved in these unique relationships with the service dogs,” said Frank Neuner, St. Louis office managing partner at Spencer Fane. “Spencer Fane continues to prioritize giving back, and we are excited about the opportunity to develop and grow a relationship with Duo Dogs.”

The Spencer Fane charitable grant in St. Louis aims to provide significant support to a select local nonprofit organization through a $50,000 donation over the course of three years. The primary goals of the program are to encourage a long-standing relationship with a nonprofit organization where the firm’s donation can truly make a difference, and to provide Spencer Fane employees with additional opportunities to become involved with the firm’s charitable causes.