HHS alumni Amy Li (Class of 2021) has been working as a “Volunteer Puppy Partner” to socialize puppies as a student at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In partnership with a nearby non-profit, Smoky Mountain Service Dogs (SMSD), Li and four other students completed the required 20 hours of training and started working to transform dogs into certified mobility assistance service animals.
This cohort, founded with the inspiration of marketing faculty lecturer Amy Engstrom Clugg, is the first to revive the program at the university since the start of the pandemic in 2020. All of the students work as volunteers, contributing their time on-campus at least once per week to the project. Their work typically includes handling dogs and learning how to react to specific situations and perform certain commands.
Since its revival, one dog trained on-site has been handed off to a veteran, able to help with tasks ranging from carrying groceries to opening doors. Li feels this accomplishment proves the “real impact” of the continually strengthening relationship between the school and the local community. The group is working to “raise awareness” and is currently training new volunteers to expand their movement and help more recipients.