Staff Report

Santa Ynez Valley Transit donated a driver’s time and the use of a bus for teams from Psychiatric Service Dog Partners to train service dogs at the organization’s annual international convention in April at the Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall.

The nonprofit Psychiatric Service Dog Partners operates multiple programs assisting the public and service-dog teams. When convention coordinator Chanda Hagen was driving through Solvang to familiarize herself with the area prior to the convention, she noticed the distinctive SYVT bus and decided to incorporate public transit training in the convention.

“I thought it would be great to train the dogs to work in and around a stationary and moving bus. So I called the city and it offered to donate the use of a bus and driver,” Hagen said.

John Webb, a representative from Roadrunner Management Services (SYVT’s contracted bus operator), demonstrated various transit procedures at the convention. The trainers worked the service dogs with wheelchair lifts and through safety measures for boarding and leaving the bus. Webb was able to answer questions from more than a dozen trainers attending the convention with their service dogs.

“This donation represents an important partnership between SYVT and our riders who rely on service dogs to travel,” said Solvang Public Works Director Matt van der Linden. “The opportunity to participate in the actual training of these animals will add to our understanding of the support service dogs provide.”

SYVT is funded through a Joint Powers Agreement by the cities of Buellton and Solvang and Santa Barbara County.

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