“If it wasn't for you I don't think I would be where I am at today. It's because of you guys that I not only have the courage to talk about my trauma but the strength to allow myself to start to heal. Thank you so much for my service dog. It's funny, my husband and I were talking the other day, I remember saying 'You know I don't really remember what life was like before my service dog.' It's like he has always been there. Thank you all!”
- PAVE Service Dog Recipient
Many of our veterans are returning home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) in addition to physical injuries. They suffer from hypervigilance, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, insomnia, and nightmares just to name a few symptoms. It is estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide daily, largely because of the invisible wounds of war.
These veterans can become isolated from family and loved ones; they may be unable to leave their homes alone, even to return to school or work. While some veterans improve with traditional therapy and pharmaceutical treatments, others struggle with the relentless symptoms of these conditions. For those still not finding relief a service dog is a great solution!
Having a service dog specifically trained for this work can do so much for a veteran in need! The service dogs reduce hypervigilance because the veterans learn to interpret their dog's body language and trust them. They also reduce anxiety and interrupt panic attacks through grounding techniques and specially trained tasks. Service dogs can sense changes in sleep patterns and wake up their handlers before nightmares even really get started, giving their veteran peace of mind to go back to sleep knowing they are safe. Even looking into a service dog's eyes releases the hormone Oxytocin which is a natural anti-depressant.
Paws Assisting Veterans is dedicated to training service dogs for veterans at no cost to the veteran!
It takes approximately two years to train a service dog for this work. During this time the dog lives with a certified professional dog trainer and receives daily training. Each dog learns how to navigate in public, basic obedience skills, the special tasks to assist a veteran with psychological and/or physical injuries. Once the dog is ready to be placed with a veteran they are carefully selected for their perfect teammate to form a very effective team!
Each veteran is thoroughly screened and interviewed to find the best match and suitability for receiving a service dog. Once a veteran is teamed with a service dog they train as a team with a certified professional dog trainer until they are ready to pass their final exam and graduate.
Each veteran upon graduation receives:
- 40 hours of private dog training instruction (on average)
- a fully trained service dog
- $1,000 of dog supplies
- annual recertification and home visits to ensure the success of the team
- a lifetime of follow-up for any questions or concerns that may arise
Each service dog costs us $35,000 and the veteran recipient pays nothing.
A service dog can continue working for over a decade and the benefits have no adverse side-effects. In fact, many of our veterans are able to reduce or eliminate medications (in consultation with their medical providers) after receiving a service dog because they no longer need their medication.
Paws Assisting Veterans is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we can't do this work without your support. Your contribution can help save a veteran's life and put them on the road to healing. Please help us pave their way home.