Give a Veteran the Gift of Freedom with a PTSD Service Dog
The mission of Pets and Patriots Foundation is to serve and support the veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) living in North Central Florida by providing qualified dogs and/or service dog training to them and their dog – thereby improving the quality of life for the veteran and family.
Any military veteran currently receiving psychiatric care from the VA qualifies for services, regardless of dates of duty.
The Role of a Service Dog
Veterans who served in combat zones have often experienced disturbing events that may lead to psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Nightmares, often involving scenes witnessed by the veteran
- Vivid flashbacks of a disturbing event
- Hypersensitivity to sounds that remind the veteran of a disturbing event
- Hypersensitivity to sights that remind the veteran of a disturbing event
- Perceived threats in public places (and having to sit or stand against a wall to block a perceived threat in restaurants, crowded places, and stores)
- A feeling of panic that something bad is about to happen
- Feeling emotionally cut off from people, even loved ones and family
- Feeling anxious, jittery, or irritated and unable to focus on a task
The RAND Corporation conducted a study that showed PTSD and combat-related depression affects up to 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Roughly 30 percent of post-9/11 veterans treated at VA medical facilities have screened positive for PTSD, according to the department. Medications may be helpful, but often lead to a host of crippling side-effects. A service dog can often mediate symptoms of PTSD far better than medications.
Dogs trained to assist people with PTSD learn a range of tasks, such as waking a veteran from a nightmare, standing in front of or behind a veteran to fend off crowds or approaching people, “sweeping” a room for other people before the veteran enters, enabling a veteran to remove himself from an upsetting situation to avoid a panic attack, carrying items that the veteran needs to avoid a panic attack, answer the doorbell, and even press a button on the phone to summon human help. Often, a dog by a veteran’s side can give the veteran a sense of security not felt before.
You can fully sponsor a PTSD Service Dog for $5,500 and give the gift of freedom to a veteran battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to his or her service.
We provide a trained dog to a veteran at no cost to the veteran. Your sponsorship will enable us to purchase a service dog vest, patches, identification cards, for each dog enrolled in our training program, as well as professional training to prepare each dog for the job of PTSD Service Dog. Each dog who completes the PTSD Service Dog Training Program is provided:
- 6 weeks of basic training with the dog’s veteran to learn commands such as Sit, Down, Sit-Stay, Down-Stay, Come/Recall, Heel, walking on a leash, house training, and crate training.
- 12 weeks of training specific to each veteran’s need in the veteran’s home with the veteran as the handler
- 6 months of public access training to master the tasks on the Public Access Test, as set forth by Assistance Dogs International
- A service dog vest, a service dog patch, “do not pet” patch, service dog identification cards, public access information cards, a martingale collar, and a 6ft leash.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you get your dogs?
Some of our service dogs are former shelter dogs saved by a rescue group and donated to a veteran. By pairing carefully screened rescued dogs who receive specialized service dog training with a veteran battling PTSD, Pets and Patriots saves two lives – a rescued dog and a veteran who has served our country. Some of the veterans we help approach us to request specialized training for a dog they already own. Some of these dogs have been purchased or given to the veteran by a friend or family member in hopes of helping the veteran. In many cases, these dogs are well-suited to training as a service dog because they have already formed a strong bond with their veteran, and have already started helping their veteran cope with PTSD while at home. Our aim is to further their training so that these dogs can work as service dogs outside their veteran’s home.
What breeds do you work with?
We work with all breeds. As long as a dog is well-mannered and able to do the work of a PTSD Service Dog, we will evaluate the dog for the program.
What happens if a dog “fails out” of the training program?
If a dog doesn’t graduate to be a service dog, he is put up for adoption into families who only want a pet dog, not a working dog.
How do you know what to teach a service dog to do?
We train each of our dogs in accordance with the standards set forth by Assistance Dogs International (ADI), and International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). We tailor our training to fit each veteran’s specific needs.
How are my donations utilized?
If a rescue group charges an adoption fee for a dog who is accepted into our program, your donation pays that adoption fee. The service vest, leash, collar, and information cards we provide with each dog is also paid for by your donation. The cost of training each dog is covered by your donation. We want to be sure no veteran pays for the cost of his service dog, and your donation makes that possible.