CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Service dogs are often unsung heroes, but thanks to a nonprofit organization 10 dogs were given a chance to shine.

A special graduation ceremony was held by the Service Dogs of Virginia (SDV) at Piedmont Virginia Community College on December 15, honoring the newest team of service dogs.

The nonprofit organization raises, trains and places dogs to assist people with disabilities. 

Based in Charlottesville, Service Dogs of Virginia serves clients across the entire state.

The dogs serve those with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, diabetic alerts, and assist with physical needs as well. 

“We placed 10 dogs with clients this year and all of those clients spoke today or communicated in one way or another if they couldn't be here," said SDV Director of Development Sally Day.

Clients like 14-year-old Sarah Fyock, had to train with her dog Montra before she could be brought home.

Fyock says it has all been worth it to have a friend who is always there to help:

“If I drop something she can pick it up. If my vent comes off she will try to alert somebody, that’s what I’ve been teaching her.”

Besides being a day to show how much these canines have learned, it’s also a day to say thank you to donors, and trainers.

“I think one of the reasons that it’s important for them to say thank you is also to explain what it’s like to live with a disability. I think if you don’t have a disability it’s kind of hard to relate to someone who does have one," said Day.

SDV relies on donations from individuals, sponsors, and fundraising events to assist with the cost of getting someone a service dog.

They strive to place their highly trained dogs at no cost to the individual.

Before the dogs go home with their clients, they work with puppy raisers, and trainers to learn commands, and how to be a good service dog.

Puppy Raiser Amy Lowell said, “All of the dogs that were on stage today I’ve been in class with or I’ve had for a weekend or a week or two weeks. I know all of them as they go across the stage and it’s so great to hear their humans’ stories and see how the dog is changing that life, it is indescribable.”

Service Dogs of Virginia says in the next year, they hope to place even more dogs with clients.

To see how you can help or to apply to the program, you can visit