Nonprofit celebrates National Service Dog Month


September is National Service Dog Month, and the Zionsville nonprofit Indiana Canine Assistant Network is helping raise awareness about the importance of service dogs and the support they provide to those in need in the community.

ICAN was founded in 2002. It trains and places assistance dogs with community members living with disabilities. Over the past 20 years, it has placed nearly 250 service dogs.

The nonprofit has a dual mission of supporting those in the community with disabilities and offering a pathway of rehabilitation for individuals who want to better themselves.

“ICAN works with the Indiana Women’s Prison, Pendleton Correctional Facility and the Correctional Industrial Facility,” ICAN communications manager Samantha Thompson said. “The incarcerated individuals serve as trainers and handlers for our service dogs.”

ICAN was recently awarded a $5,000 rolling grant from the Community Foundation of Boone County to support a facility service dog’s placement in a local Boone County elementary school.

“ICAN relies on community grants and individual support to place as many dogs as possible,” Thompson said. “We would not be able to do what we do without community support.”

The nonprofit held a fundraiser Sept. 8 at Hickory Hall Polo Club in Whitestown to raise awareness for ICAN, where it received half of its operating funds.

“We have close to a two-year waitlist,” Thompson said. “With the funds from our fundraising events, we can train more dogs and lower our waitlist time.”

The next fundraiser for ICAN is Wine and Wags Oct. 19 at the Biltwell Event Center in Indianapolis.

“Wine and Wags is open to the public and gives the community a chance to get to know what we do,” Thompson said. “We hope people will learn about us, fall in love with us and want to support us.”

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