Wounded Veteran Program
We funded our first wounded veteran/service dog team in 2007. Most of our service dog recipients suffer from either single or multiple amputations, and some are confined to wheelchairs. We provide 100% of the funding for the training and care of these dogs—the government currently does not provide any funding for service dogs. Through board members and friends we are actively working with veterans' organizations and hospitals to increase awareness of our program and so that any veteran who might benefit from a service dog can get one. As we have reached out, we are finding that more and more veterans are applying for service dogs. We receive requests for funding daily from nearly all of the training facilities with which we work.
As PTSD becomes more prevalent in returning soldiers, we are working with several facilities to help train dogs to specifically support this type of injury. We make certain that all of our dogs are gentle, loving animals that can provide a soft, non-human "snuggle" when a returning soldier is having a moment of discomfort. One returning veteran says of his dog, "He knows when I'm not doing well. He simply puts his paws on my leg, and puts his head in my lap. As I pet him, I just feel better." Read about how one injured veteran relates the value of his service dog in keeping life events in perspective.
We are also funding organizations such as Paws for Purple Hearts, who are training returning vets with PTSD to become trainers of service dogs, thus creating a circle of help with veterans training dogs to help other veterans.