We’ve reached a critical juncture in our organization’s ability to meet the needs of our beneficiaries. Without a training campus, we are greatly limited in the number of dogs we can accommodate in our training program, making it impossible to serve the ever-increasing number of people applying to our organization. The time has come to build a permanent home, a home that will ensure our ability to create life-changing partnerships for generations to come. This is the home that will “unleash” our full potential and that of every person and dog that we serve.
In the summer of 2014, we purchased 17 lovely acres on north Whidbey Island and are now embarking on a capital campaign to raise funds for building a state-of-the-art training campus. It’s a critical component of our strategic growth plan to meet the high demand for service dogs in the Northwest. We’re making progress toward this long-awaited dream after more than 18 years of being mostly home based, with staff and dedicated volunteers housing our puppies and adult dogs. We are grateful for the support of our donors and volunteers over the years and look forward to sharing this dream with you as it becomes a reality.
Initial architects’ concept designs for the proposed Summit Assistance Dogs campus
Why is Summit building a training campus?
It has been our dream since our founding in 2000 to have a quality training campus for our service dogs. For the past several years, we have been unable to increase the number of service dogs we are placing due to our limited capacity for housing and training them. We have relied on volunteer foster homes and our training staff to house our dogs, and we have limited resources available for this purpose. We frequently miss out on opportunities to bring in great dogs because we are unable to find housing for them. A facility will allow us to train more dogs and to use our resources much more efficiently, thereby increasing the supply of service dogs to our clients, who currently wait 2-5 years to receive their partners. A facility also creates a sense of permanence for the organization, something our donors value and are eager to invest in.
How big will your campus be and how much will it cost to build?
We anticipate having approximately 16,000 square feet of structures at full build out. We are committed to siting the buildings where they will be buffered from neighboring properties, and we will incorporate water and energy efficiency and sustainability into our designs. We estimate needing to raise approximately $5 million dollars to complete our project, which will include site design and development and the construction of buildings. The majority of this funding will come from individual, corporate, and foundation gifts.
What buildings are planned?
Our Canine Condo will contain 24 suites that will accommodate up to 48 dogs in training. Each suite will resemble a home living situation and have a shaded patio area and access to a large play yard. Our suites are designed for comfort and low stress, so our dogs will be relaxed and able to focus on learning their new skills. Specialized whelping and puppy rearing kennels are planned for those times when we are expecting litters from our breeding program. Additionally, an observation area is planned for times that we may need to care for a sick dog or have incoming dogs that need to be held in quarantine. This building will also contain rooms for food preparation, grooming, laundry and storage.
Our Training Center will be the hub for all things educational, for both people and dogs. Our dogs learning advanced skills will be trained here each day in preparation for placement with their partners. The training center will contain training props and some areas that will simulate a home or work environment for dogs to learn such skills as opening and closing doors, turning on and off lights, loading a washing machine, taking off bed covers and retrieving a telephone. The training center will also be used to conduct weekly training classes for our volunteers who are fostering dogs and education classes for clients who are partnered with a service dog. The attached Administrative Center will provide staff and volunteer offices as well as a conference room.
Our Client Lodge will contain 6 fully accessible rooms and bathrooms for clients and their dogs, as well as caregivers, if required. Having accommodations on site will allow our clients to focus on their training and not have to concern themselves with transportation to and from hotels and restaurants. The lodge will also be less stressful for our dogs as they adapt to working and living with a new partner before being exposed to the rigors of public life.
Do you receive government funding?
No, Summit has received no government funding to date. Our work is funded entirely by generous donors, businesses, and foundations.