By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
A new thrift store in Fairmont is raising money for paws4people foundation, which is creating positive experiences and changing lives.
On Tuesday, paws4people held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for its shop, located in downtown Fairmont at 309 Cleveland Ave. Formed in 1999 and based in North Carolina, the organization provides service dogs for children with disabilities, senior citizens and veterans.
Mark Reynolds, director of operations for West Virginia, said the foundation trains inmates in state prisons — including Pruntytown Correctional Center, Lakin Correctional Center, U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton and Federal Bureau of Prisons Alderson — to train the dogs. In July, inmates will be coming from Pruntytown to train dogs at Fairmont State University.
So far, paws4people has paired about 287 clients with service dogs, he said. A dog’s training to learn the basics can go on for two years, and each animal gets specialized training — such as for medical alert or hearing impaired alert — to meet the needs of the particular client.
“The training’s always continuous,” Reynolds said. “We have total control over the dog.”
The foundation doesn’t charge its clients for the dogs, but does ask them to make public appearances and help with fundraising, he said. The new thrift store in Fairmont, which is the first of its kind established by the organization, was started about three months ago to provide additional fundraising.