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October 9, 2019

CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
Communication Director

Passion for Pups Pays Off

By Tim Brown

SANFORD, FL – For more than a year, Luke Swoape has been working with rescue dogs to help increase their chances of being adopted into a forever home. Swoape volunteers at Seminole County Animal Services at least twice a week, using the Lynx Metro bus system to travel to and from the shelter. He completed the necessary animal training after sharing his desire to work with dogs at a meeting with his support team.

Swoape has a developmental disability and receives services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and APD is highlighting the workplace achievements of people with disabilities and the employers that hire them.

Swoape says working with the animals has been extremely rewarding. “Dogs are my heart, and being able to help them makes me feel incredibly happy,” he said. Swoape usually spends Wednesdays and Saturdays with his furry friends. He says the pride he feels and the recognition he receives through volunteering has boosted his self-esteem.

Animal shelter staff applauds Swoape’s record of competency, responsibility, and dedication to the dogs. He enjoys opportunities to work with professional dog trainers, including American Kennel Club certified Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Evaluators. The CGC program teaches dogs the basics of good manners and obedience. It also strengthens the bonds of dogs and people.

Along with his volunteer work, Swoape works at the Inspire of Central Florida woodshop. He is the lead assistant to the supervisor and specializes in cutting rebar, sanding wood, and operating the forklift. Inspire staff says he has been a valued employee for 30 years. Woodshop Supervisor Jim Fillman said, “I don’t have to worry about a job assigned to Luke. He will do what it takes to get it done.”

Swoape enjoys spending time outdoors during his off hours and date nights with his girlfriend.

Coworkers call Swoape a compassionate man, a friend to many, and helpful to all. “One of my main goals in life is to continue to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life,” Swoape said.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 55,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit or call toll free 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273).