For many of our nation’s brave veterans, coming home is only the beginning of another daunting battle. The invisible wounds of war, including Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, can cause debilitating symptoms in veterans, leading to depression, social isolation and, far too often, suicide. Through our Pups4Patriots™ program, American Humane harnesses the healing powers of the human-animal bond to save lives.
Research shows that specially trained service dogs can reduce stress and anxiety levels, mitigate depression, ease social reintegration, provide comfort and restore confidence in affected veterans. However, there are many obstacles standing in the way of veterans in need of service dogs including long waiting lists and exorbitant costs, reaching upwards of $30,000 per service dog.
The Pups4Patriots™ program pairs dogs in search of forever homes with veterans in need, at no cost to the veteran. Today, we are thrilled to congratulate the newest graduate from our program – Mario and his service dog, Todd!
Mario is a U.S. Navy veteran who served from 2002 to 2006 and was deployed for both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He lives in New Mexico and is paired with Todd, a male Labrador Retriever.
Mario noted the following:
“I am so grateful to have been selected for Pups4Patriots. Honestly, I don’t have the words to say how much it means to me. Todd is an amazing dog and is my shadow. He follows me wherever I go – even in the house. He is constantly looking to me to make sure I’m not feeling anxious or stressed and that in and of itself has given me so much relief. He immediately fell in love with my family as well and he is such a loving boy that wants nothing more than to please his handler. Since he has been home with me, I have felt less stressed to be in public and felt calmer in social situations and big rooms. Thank you so much for what you have given me and for the work you continue to do for veterans.”
Service Dogs like Todd help mitigate symptoms associated with trauma and empower veterans to live healthy, happy lives. We are honored we could help Mario and Todd find each other, and we wish them the best as they continue their journeys together. We are committed to putting healing leashes into the hands of veterans in need, saving lives.