Chrysler Partners With Service Dogs To Give The Disabled The Freedom To Drive

CHICAGO (CBS) – A few years ago the SPCA in New Zealand taught dogs to drive to raise awareness of pet adoption.

Though we are not quite talking about paws on the wheel, the Chicago Auto Show has a display of how dogs and technology can help the disabled get around better.

CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross has a sneak peek at the amazing animals behind this new technology.

Chrysler see the market for vehicles serving the disabled growing about six to eight percent annually. They are collaborating with organizations to meet that demand.

One of those partners is Canine Companions for Independence. In a demonstration, the organization shows how assistance dogs can help in the process of transportation.

Younger dogs, ages four to nine months, were also at the show. They are in the process of training. Those pups by the age of two will be placed with a companion.

The car company works with another manufacturer, Braun Ability, to customize the vehicles for individual use depending on the driver’s disability.

“Everyone with disabilities is going to need something a little different in their vehicle,” said Matt McAlear, Chrysler. “They have the opportunity to work with Braun, and companies like Braun Ability to outfit their vehicles just in a way that is specific for them.”

Improvements in technology and dog training have made life easier and happier for driver, Steve Karmgard.

“For one, to have a vehicle and to then to have your freedom,” Karmgard said.

New models, like the modified Pacifica start at about $54,000.

The partnership with Canine Companions also intends to raise awareness and funds for dog programs. In some cases, specialized dog training can cost $50,000.

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