MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For people with disabilities, being independent is one of the biggest things they strive for, and sometimes independence takes the help of a four-legged friend.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Samantha Smith Reports

Six new service dogs graduated Friday from the Helping Paws training program and will be released to people in need. Amy Hermanek is a quadriplegic and is getting her second service dog, Dempsey. She says the two have already formed a bond.

“Having a service dog with me now, I can breathe easier knowing that I’m going to be okay no matter what happens,” Hermanek said. “Whereas when I was without the dog or any dog, I was in much more jeopardy.”

The dogs help their owners with a variety of tasks such as opening doors, picking up things and helping take off jackets.

“It’s pretty incredible how smart they are and how many things they can do,” Hermanek said.

The dogs are trained in foster homes for two and a half years before being partnered with recipients.