In 2013, Medical Mutts was founded by Jennifer Cattet, Ph.D., and her husband, Jack Topham. With unwavering dedication and a passion for helping others, they embarked on a mission to make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities and shelter dogs in need. Jennifer's expertise in animal behavior, coupled with Jack's business experience and shared commitment, laid the foundation for Medical Mutts. Their vision and hard work have since transformed countless lives, fostering a unique bond between people and their four-legged companions. Today, their legacy continues to drive our organization's mission of empowerment, compassion, and transformation.
Pioneers in Medical Alert Service Dogs
Before co-founding Medical Mutts in 2013, Jennifer Cattet, Ph.D., brought her expertise to a prison-based service dog organization, where she served as the Director of Training. During her tenure, she developed the groundbreaking diabetic alert dog training program and was part of the pioneering research that proved dogs could detect glucose level drops in diabetic patients by scent. This achievement also led her to develop a robust training program for seizure alert dogs, supported by her research demonstrating the release of specific scents during seizures. Jennifer's dedication to service dog training and her commitment to scientific excellence have been pivotal in our mission.
Jack Topham, on the other hand, previously volunteered with this service dog nonprofit, where he had the opportunity to learn the intricacies of training service dogs under Jennifer's guidance. Combining his business acumen, honed through years of managing various enterprises, with Jennifer's unparalleled expertise in medical alert service dogs, they embarked on a shared mission. Together, they aspired to make a profound impact on the lives of individuals facing life-threatening conditions while ensuring the welfare of abandoned dogs. Their journey with Medical Mutts is a testament to their unwavering commitment to transforming lives and offering shelter dogs a renewed sense of purpose.
Medical Mutts Inception: First Recruits and Home Training
Jennifer Cattet, Ph.D., and Jack Topham created Medical Mutts as a business enterprise and recruited their first service dog candidates. They began their journey by training these dogs from their home base in Indianapolis, driven by a shared passion to assist individuals with life-threatening conditions and provide abandoned dogs with a new lease on life.
Milestone: Expanding Medical Mutts
Jennifer and Jack welcomed their first hired trainer aboard the Medical Mutts team, a pivotal step in their journey. They decided to take Medical Mutts beyond the confines of their home, securing a larger space to accommodate more dogs, marking an essential phase in their mission to transform the lives of individuals with disabilities and shelter dogs.
Responding to high demand, Medical Mutts experienced rapid growth, expanding its staff and doubling the facility's size to accommodate up to 20 dogs on-site. During this period, they also introduced group classes aimed at assisting individuals in learning how to train their own service dogs.
Medical Mutts becomes a non profit
Medical Mutts achieved its goal of becoming a non-profit organization. While this had always been a part of their vision, founders Jennifer and Jack initially prioritized developing their training program. As experienced dog trainers and business managers, and little experience in fundraising, they needed to recruit talent who could assist in the non-profit transition.
Covid and move to a new location
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Medical Mutts to transition all classes into online formats. While they had been providing online training for individuals in remote locations, this marked a significant shift as most of their teaching had traditionally taken place at their facility. Towards the end of the year, Medical Mutts achieved a milestone by purchasing a new location and completing their move just before Christmas.
10 year anniversary
Medical Mutts celebrates its 10th anniversary, having successfully placed over 100 service dogs and trained 150 owner dogs as service dogs. Their facility, which accommodates 30 service dogs in training simultaneously, is supported by a dedicated staff of 14 professionals.