SYLVANIA, Ohio — A new resource for those with disabilities is now ready to serve our community, and you can take a tour.

The Ability Center has just opened their new K-9 training center to help those with autism and other disabilities achieve greater independence. It all starts with the help of a dog. 

In recent years, The Ability Center's graduation rate for assistance dogs has increased 25 percent. The new facility will address growing needs for therapy and service dogs by expanding programming capabilities. 

Those capabilities include a larger work space to enhance consumer learning and greater training opportunities for the service dogs. 

Ability Center training facility
WTOL

The $1.4 million building features a dog training space, consumer service center and a model independent living apartment where dogs will learn how to serve their humans in a real environment.  

Service dogs provide help, independence and comfort for those with physical and mobility limitations. They're trained to pick up objects, remove clothing and open doors, among other tasks. 

Rather than focus on specific tasks, therapy dogs provide more emotional support and comfort. 

The Ability Center will share the standalone building with Agility Angels, a local nonprofit that trains therapy dogs.

"We're going to be able to grow the program and offer to people with more disabilities. So wheelchair--we never had wheelchair access because of our matting, it would move with the wheelchair. So we can now offer wheelchair classes, we're going to hopefully open it up to schools," Kim Holmes, president of Agility Angels and a trainer for The Ability Center, said.

The dog agility sport helps individuals with autism develop social skills, enhance their physical abilities, and gain self-confidence.

If you would like to tour the new facility, The Ability Center will be hosting open houses Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Dec. 10 from 4 to 6 p.m.

The Ability Center is located at 5605 Monroe St. in Sylvania.