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Welcoming Summer with a New Service Dog

American Humane is excited to celebrate the warm weather with a graduation from our Pups4PatriotsTM program. The Pups4Patriots program provides specially trained service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury. Once trained, service dogs can help mitigate symptoms associated with trauma.

Hubert is a U.S. Army veteran who served from 1984-2003 as an automtated logistics specialist. He deployed to serve in the Gulf War and retired as a Sergeant Fist Class. He was recently paired with Baker, a male Mini Labradoodle, through American Humane’s Pups4Patriots program.

Specially trained service dogs can help mitigate these symptoms through a variety of tasks, including grounding and creating space. When a service dog responds to a grounding cue, they rest their entire body against their handler. Just the dog’s physical touch can ground the veteran and help de-escalate their anxiety. For those who are uncomfortable in large crowds, or with people being in their personal space, upon the handler’s cue, a service dog will position him/herself in front or behind the handler to create space between the handler and other people.

According to Hubert, “Baker keeps me grounded with the task he provides for my disabilities. He senses when I need him the most. One the greatest comments we receive is when leaving a restaurant and people say ‘I didn’t realize you had a dog with you!'”

While service dogs are an invaluable asset to veterans with trauma, there are significant obstacles to receiving one. Properly training a dog so they will remain calm and unobtrusive in public areas and help a veteran with trauma symptoms is expensive – costing up to $30,000 per dog. When cost isn’t an obstacle, wait times can still be prohibitively long.

Through the Pups4Patriot program, American Humane provides service dogs to veterans at no charge to them. The Pups4Patriots program, and the training of Hubert and Baker, is made possible through the generous support of donors. To learn more, and fund lifesaving service dogs, visit www.americanhumane.org/program/military/.

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