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Doggy daycare adds staff with developmental disabilities

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new doggy daycare on the city’s south side will be staffed by young adults with developmental disabilities. It’s called Happy Hounds and is the second outreach of a local nonprofit.

In just a few days, the doors will be open. It’s a place of comfort and care not only for dogs but for those behind the counter.

It’s the first day of work for Ali, Alex and Lizzie. They are ready to learn and listen. The job requires one thing: Love.

“They’re super friendly and super nice,” employee Lizzie Layer said.

Ali, Alex and Lizzie are all best friends. Now, they have a new list of tasks to remember.

“We have to clean the dog poop, clean everything and cuddle with them,” Layer said.

They brought their own dogs for practice

“This is really that safe place for them to learn and function ad navigate their way through figuring out the workforce,” Happy Hounds manager Courtney Hack said.

The idea of Happy Hounds was created by Jennifer and Andrew Parker, who founded the Alex and Ali foundation in 2014.

“There’s a lot more people like Alex that want to be in the community and want to be giving back and contributing but the opportunities just aren’t there so we realized okay, we’re going to create opportunities,” she said.

Both Alex and Ali have autism.

Happy Hounds gives all three friends the chance to engage with the community and be productive.

“We’ve realized that they can work and they do a fantastic job,” Parker said.

Volunteers and employees will receive career coaching, training in dog care and the chance to improve social skills while interacting with customers.

“I like the community, it’s like so much fun around here,” Layer said.

With an acre of fenced land, it’s any dog’s dream. The best part is they get to have a friend by their side.

There is a dog-friendly open house on Sunday afternoon from 2 to 5 where you can meet the employees and see the facility.

The plan is to officially open on Sept. 1.