A new club, Indiana Canine Assistance Network (ICAN), has Hoosiers howling about a new way to help train and work with service dogs on campus.

Service puppy, Tessa, drew large crowds of IU students to the ICAN booth during the involvement fair. ICAN is a nonprofit organization that works with incarcerated individuals who help train the service dogs while in prison and then providing children and adults who have disabilities with trained service dogs to give them greater independence in their daily lives.

Co-founders Julie Mathias and Ashton Asbury started ICAN after learning about the program in their animal behavior class last March.

When Mathias and Asbury first presented the idea for their new club, the Indiana University school board expressed concerns about the safety of students around the ICAN dogs. Mathias says, “Although it hasn’t been easy, we have finally been approved to have students host ICAN service dogs on campus for 2 weeks to help with their training.”

The goal of ICAN at IU is to spread awareness of how people should act around service dogs by helping train the dogs in a college campus setting and also plan and execute campus events to raise money for ICAN. This past December, students came to the Kelley School of Business and interacted with the ICAN service puppies at their first event, which aimed to help students relax and de-stress during finals week.

Education and Outreach Committee Head, Leanne Sanders, says that ICAN hopes to have more outreach events in the future to help promote education on how people should act around service dogs. There are many ways for students to get involved in ICAN, through attending meetings, helping plan events, managing finances and donations, heading committees, and being a dog trainer.

IU student and dog lover, Elise Kaehr, says that she is excited to join ICAN because she misses her dog a lot when she is away from home and wants the opportunity to work with dogs on campus.

As ICAN starts to grow, IU students may start to see more service dogs in training walking around campus, and even going on buses and sitting in their classes. It is important that students take caution around these dogs and always ask the handler before approaching, petting, or taking pictures of the service dogs in training.

Students can learn more about ICAN at their Call-Out Meeting on January 18th at 7 p.m. in Woodburn 101 or by visiting their website, icanatiu.weebly.com.

Julie Mathias: jemathia@umail.iu.edu

Cofounder and Co-President of ICAN at IU

Ashton Asbury: amasbury@umail.iu.edu

Cofounder and Co-President of ICAN at IU

Leanne Sanders: leansand@umail.iu.edu

Education and Outreach Committee Head