Jefferson Award Winner: Glenda Keller

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Highlighting Local Volunteers

The Jefferson Awards engages the Partners in our communities to highlight local volunteers. The goal is to spotlight the great work they do and to inspire our community to put their service ideas into action.

From the 2019-2020 Honorees, a local panel of judges select one winner that will travel to the National Gala in Washington, DC. to represent Northeast Kansas.  From the nationwide winners, one will be selected for a national Jefferson Award.

For the past two decades a local woman has spent her days raising dogs. 

Not just any dog. They come with a price tag of $25,000. 

Just by looking at the dogs they appear like your ordinary labs and golden retrievers.

Even as puppies they’re adorable of course. But with each costing $25,000, you may be wondering how. 

Just like the old phrase says “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” The same goes for these pups. 

“We want people to have as much independence as possible back,” said Glenda Keller, CEO KSDS.

For the last 20 years, in the small town of Washington, Kansas, Glenda Keller has been running the Kansas Specialty Dog Service, or KSDS for short. 

Their mission statement: changing lives one dog at a time. 

They’re doing it by training guide dogs for the visually impaired, service dogs to assist people with physical disabilities and facility dogs. 

Over the years they’ve been able to place more than 500 dogs in homes across the United States.

Glenda said it’s taken a team effort to accomplish that. 

People volunteer to be puppy raisers, taking care of them until they’re 18 months. 

Then the dogs come back to KSDS to get trained for their future owner. 

“It’s kind of like raising, sending children off to college. You raise them and let them go,” said Keller. 

But when they go, neither Glenda or KSDS try to collect that $25,000. Because of donations and fundraisers the dogs are given away for free. 

“So every time a dog graduates we need to fundraise so that we can help another person,” said Keller.

The dogs are in such high demand that there’s a wait list of two to three years right now. 

But they make it easy for people in need of a service dog to get on that list. All they ask is for an online application to be filled out.   

“Everybody has a god given right for independence and as much as they can get it through a dog we want to provide it,” said Keller. 

The dogs are in such high demand that there’s a wait list of two to three years right now. To check out Keller’s work or to donate, you can click here

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