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Service Dogs Change Lives Amidst Pandemic

For more than 100 years, American Humane has worked alongside the U.S. Armed Forces, supporting animals, troops and the bond that the two share. As the novel coronavirus has upended in-person interactions, American Humane has stayed committed to safely and responsibly training and pairing service dogs with veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and/or traumatic brain injury.

We are celebrating two graduates of our Pups4PatriotsTM program who recently completed their training in Oklahoma. These veterans and dogs are looking forward to new lives together.

Doree and Duke.

Doree, a U.S. Navy veteran who served as a drug and alcohol counselor, was paired with Duke, a male Giant Schnauzer. According to her, life before Duke was difficult, “When I applied for this program, I was struggling. I had barricaded myself in my room for 10 days without sleep. Fear controlled me.”

Doree’s story is not uncommon. Up to one in five veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. When therapy or drugs fail to help, properly trained service dogs can make a difference.

Duke has brought vigor and hope into Doree’s life. She says that he alerts her when an episode is coming and can help her cope through panic. After graduating the program with Duke, Doree said, “He has helped give me something to focus on, which has enabled me to do things I had stopped doing. My life wouldn’t be the same and I owe it to Duke!”

Matt and Bogie.

Matt, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, was paired with Bogie, a male German Shepherd. According to him, “training alongside Bogie helped strengthen the bond between us, and better prepared us for working together.”

Service dogs are excellent tools for veterans living with invisible wounds of war, but the path to a properly trained pup is fraught with obstacles, including excessively long waiting lists and substantial up-front costs. American Humane is committed to removing those barriers for veterans who need service dogs, which is why there is no cost associated with our program. Only through the generous support of donors is this program made possible.

To learn more, and fund lifesaving service dogs, visit www.americanhumane.org/program/military.

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