New Puppy Development Coordinator: Clear Path is a 'team working to make each day easier'

Clear Path for Veterans’ new Puppy Development Coordinator is a recent college graduate, but her course of study at Canisius College in Buffalo is nationally recognized for its unique focus and is the largest program of its kind in the nation.

Casey Eberhardt recently joined the Clear Path staff, taking the helm of the Puppy Development Program which is designed to raise and train canines for a period of up to 24 months prior to being placed with a selected Veteran. During their 18-month training cycle, these canines learn the skills to become service dogs. Each puppy is carefully selected for health, temperament, and trainability prior to being selected for this “career.”

“What Casey has to offer is paramount to the success of the Puppy Development Program,” said Clear Path’s Director of Canine Programming Ryan Woodruff, “and we look forward to seeing how she integrates her educational background in animal studies to the training and development of our puppies and service dogs in training.”

Eberhardt began her collegiate studies at DePaul University in Chicago, but transferred “when I realized I wanted to pursue a career with animals,” she said. She then attended Canisius College and graduated with an Animal Behavior, Ecology and Conservation (ABEC) degree, which is one of the first degree programs in the nation to formally tie the study of animals to ethical considerations.

The child of a U.S. Army Veteran, Eberhardt was born in Fort Benning, Ga., and lived in the United Kingdom while her father served on active duty.

“His office was entirely decorated with memorabilia from the Army and I always loved the smell of his boot shine,” she said. In addition to her father (who served from 1994-2003), her uncle and great-uncle also served on active duty.

In addition to her studies at Canisius, Eberhardt has volunteered, interned and worked with dogs, cats, horses and other wildlife, including volunteering at no-kill shelters as well as a therapy riding center for children and a wildlife rehabilitation center.

One element of her new role is residing in Clear Path’s “Home for the Brave” to provide round-the-clock care for the program’s puppies. Accompanying her is Daphne, her soon-to-be 14-year-old Labrador Retriever.

“She loves the new house and will help me with the puppies,” Eberhardt said.

About joining the Clear Path staff: “Clear Path showed me a loving community dedicated to not only the Veterans and dogs as individuals, but as a team working to make each day easier,” Eberhardt said. “The environment of the organization showed that it was a calm, and enjoyable place for everyone who comes in.”