More than pets, service dogs save the lives of the people they serve.
Most pet owners would agree that their pets have saved their lives in many ways, through companionship at the very least. Service dogs take this one step further by being trained to perform specific tasks for their partnered human, which can be a lifesaver for disabled people who might not be able to get around as easily. Veterans in particular sometimes need a little bit of extra help and companionship, which is where this Pennsylvania program comes into play.
Operation Save A Vet, Save A Pet has been training rescue animals to become disabled veteran service dogs. The program was started by Justin Slep, a former Marine and the director of Franklin County Veteran's Affairs.
Rescue dogs are first screened to determine whether they are a good fit for the program, according to ABC news. They consider all breeds of dogs, but they need to make sure that they have a good temperament and the ability to perform the tasks that their future owners will need help with.
Once a dog is accepted into the program, they go through training, and are paired with a veteran. The program is completely free for the vets who are involved.
Helen Carlson, who trains the dogs for the program, says it can be difficult to find rescue animals who are well-suited to be veteran service dogs.
Save A Vet, Save A Pet will also train dogs who are already owned by disabled veterans to be assistants. For this service, they charge a $50 fee.
For those veterans who have already been been paired with dogs, the benefits are tremendous. Not only do the dogs help veterans with tasks that they might not be able to perform because of their injuries, but the dogs also provide unconditional love.
This companionship can be especially helpful for veterans who are coping with hardships such as PTSD. Dogs provide a constant source of comfort, which is needed to recover in a difficult time.
This post was originally published on May 30, 2016.
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