The 1st Annual Paws for the Cause event, benefiting Smoky Mountain Service Dogs (SMSD) raised nearly $6,300. The fundraising event was created by Jeff Comas and presented by Knoxville Academy of Music with help from dozens of generous local businesses and individuals, who donated goods, services, money and time.

SMSD is a non-profit organization that provides custom-trained mobility-assistance service-dogs to veterans with disabling injuries. “Every recipient I’ve met tells me that their service dog has made an incredible difference in their quality of life.” Says Mr. Comas. “The dogs can do amazing assistance tasks, like getting a bottle of water from the fridge, turning off the lights, even fetch a ringing phone. Yet, what’s even bigger is the bond of friendship built between these vet & dog teams.”


It takes about 2 years and 1,800 training hours to prepare a mobility assistance dog.

SMSD operates with over 90 volunteers, the only paid individuals are the professional trainers. The cost of acquiring, feeding, sheltering, providing veterinary care, and training one dog is $22,000 on average. “That’s why our Paws for the Cause goal for next year is $22,000. We want to graduate at least one dog.” Jeff says.


While delivering the funds to Mike Kitchens, chairman of SMSD, Jeff gets a tour of the training facility and kennel, and gets to meet service dog in training- Thor.


Next year’s event in being planned for early April at the Wild Wing Café and will feature live music, area celebrities, a silent auction, military memorabilia displays, and live task demonstrations with Hooligan, the Ambassador dog.