Paws For Veterans Trains Rescue Dogs To Help Heroes With PTSD

Rachel Leavy
by Rachel Leavy
In honor of Veterans Day, learn how you can help Paws for Veterans give disabled solders and rescue dogs a new lease on life.

For some soldiers, the battle doesn’t end when they return home. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a big problem for veterans returning home and trying to reintegrate into day-to-day life. Now, there is a new tool in the arsenal of recovery from PTSD – and it has four legs and a cold nose.

Paws for Veterans is a non-profit organization founded in 2010, and run by CEO Crystal Ayala. It is devoted to pairing combat wounded soldiers with service dogs. But the brilliance of this organization is they don’t use your typical service dogs. Not the golden retrievers you see leading the blind; but rescued shelter dogs. So not only are they helping soldiers, they are helping dogs in need.

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The dogs are trained to work as a calming influence in potentially stressful situations, sensing the pheromone changes in their partner vets that indicate the type of elevated stress that may precede a panic attack. The dog then encourages the vet’s attention and petting, becoming a calming influence in a troubled moment. Additionally, the dogs use their bodies to provide a barrier and space between the vet and other people at times when crowding could be a trigger.

Not only does Paws for Veterans train service dogs for vets with PTSD, they also train them for helping vets with Traumatic Brain Injuries, and other physical disabilities occurred while on tour. The dogs are brought in from a shelter, and then trained individually for their person.

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It’s so heartwarming to watch the veterans come out of their shells when around their dogs. I don’t have PTSD but my dog has certainly calmed my anxiety from time to time. These dogs have saved lives because they were given a second chance at their own life.

Nordic Naturals, a supplement company, has taken an interest in the organization and has decided to start a campaign to raise money for them. Nordic Naturals makes different omega supplements to aid in people and pet’s health. From now through December, a portion of purchases of certain products will support donations of the supplements to the vets and their service dogs (up to $30,000). The money will also go to funding a new training facility.

The Nordic Naturals’ ‘Buy One Bottle. Help Two Heroes’ campaign includes the following products: all sizes of the Baby’s DHA, Children’s DHA, Nordic Berries, Omega-3, Complete Omega, Ultimate Omega, Pet Cod Liver Oil, and Omega-3 Pet.

“Working with Paws for Veterans has engaged and fulfilled our entire team,” says Erin Hay, National Retail Pet Sales Representative. “They offer a human-animal bond solution to a very real problem in our country right now. In addition to supporting their efforts to build a new training facility, Nordic Naturals is supplying the program’s veterans and their rescued service dogs with omega-3 fish oil products. Ultimate Omega for adults supports heart, brain, and nervous system health, while promoting a positive mood. We are also donating Omega-3 Pet, which supports a dog or cat’s immune system, heart, skin and coat, and joint health.”

Everything about this is wonderful. Dogs who were scheduled for euthanasia get a chance at a new life. Veterans learn to cope and live a normal life again with a new best friend. We’ll stay on top of the progress and keep you informed on how plans for the new training facility are coming along. If you want to do more for this wonderful organization, please visit the Paws for Veterans website.

Rachel Leavy
Rachel Leavy

Rachel Leavy lives in Rochester, New York with her dog, Maria, and her gecko, Nigel. She has loved animals all her life, and has owned her own dog training and walking company for five years. When she's not playing with puppies, she can usually be found writing short stories, riding horses or out at a play.

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