Over Memorial Day weekend, the Washington Nationals baseball team promoted American Humane’s Pups4PatriotsTM program before the first pitch was thrown during a Sunday afternoon game against the Miami Marlins.
A video clip highlighting the program played on the Jumbotron in front of thousands of fans. Two Pups4PatriotsTM program graduates, U.S. Air Force Veteran Dottie Dow of Maryland and her service dog, Annie, and U.S. Army Veteran Mark Mills of Delaware and his service dog, Georgi, were on the field while a stadium announcement honored them for their military service.
The Pups4PatriotsTM program finds qualified dogs in need of forever homes and trains them to become lifesaving service dogs for veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress (PTS) and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The two service dogs were easily accommodated – May 26 was one of the Nationals’ “Pups in the Park” days, where dog owners are invited to bring their companions and watch the game from a pet-friendly stadium section.
Service dogs help veterans heal from the invisible wounds of war. Properly trained service dogs can sense their handlers’ needs and jump into action. In Dottie’s case, she was “constantly looking behind [her] back.” She describes how Annie “leans her bodyweight… into the back of my legs so I can feel her. I don’t have to turn around.”
Unfortunately, there are so many obstacles standing between vets with PTS or TBI and a loving, lifesaving dog. Waiting lists are long and training a dog is expensive – costing upwards of $30,000.
Pups4Patriots eliminates those obstacles, harnesses the healing powers of the bond between people and animals, and enriches lives on both ends of the leash. Applications for veterans and more information can be found here.
Watch the video that played in the park below.