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Through this program we help first responders and veterans owner train their own service dogs to help mitigate their service related PTSD
The ADA states service dogs
The difference between a emotional support animal and a service animal is as written by the ADA
If the dog’s mere presence provides comfort, it is not a service animal under the ADA. But if the dog is trained to perform a task related to a person’s disability, it is a service animal under the ADA. For example, if the dog has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, the dog is a service animal.
- ADA.gov *ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act Protects people with disabilities from discrimination
Service dogs are a proven way to help those struggling with disabling mental health symptoms improve their quality of life. Service dogs help mitigate the symptoms that keep these men and women isolated and alone. Service dogs are an excellent addition to a treatment plan, not a replacement for a treatment plan.
Access to a service dog is not as easy as you would think. A fully trained dog is expensive and not always readily available as it takes 1-2 years to train depending on age of dog. We aim to help fill that gap by helping first responders and veteran train their own puppy or dog for free.
We believe that our first responders and veterans give so much that they shouldn't have to go in debt to better their mental health due to symptoms that their selfless service triggered. During the 2020 pandemic we took that time to design a coaching program that helps first responders and veterans with PTSD to owner train their own service dogs.
Tanks training has been the model for our coaching program.
*Pictured: Amanda and Tank
Through videos and walk throughs of commands with different ways to teach it you will learn everything from basic puppy obedience through to public access and task training for your needs.
Send videos, questions, or concerns anytime. If we need to do a live online session we can or we can get together in person to work through an obstacle at any point.
Monthly or bi monthly (dependent on the group and time of year) we like to get together with the other teams in training to work together in public places. Field trip are essential to growing your skills.
We are growing this program so we are keeping groups small but hope that those in this program have a sense of camaraderie with the others in the group. We all grow together and can communicate as a group each week on achievements, struggles and fears on commands or upcoming assignments.
Amanda has over 20 years in healthcare and is the daughter of a Navy Veteran. She is also our Vice President and one of our coaches.
Tank was donated by the Tillman family in Texas and is a service dog in training (SDiT) performing tasks for Amanda and is providing public education in the community as a face of the charity.
Renee is a retired firefighter and is a part of our service dog training program.
Minnie is a Goldendoodle and has always been tuned in to Renee's emotions so we are helping her train Minnie as her service dog.
Renee also has a puppy (Aggie) we are starting work with.
Kim is a firefighter and a new part of our program in 2022. Kim and Watson are working with a trainer in her area for puppy obedience.
Watson is already tuning into Kim's needs, they are growing into a great team.
Don't be confused by Watson, he is a black German Shepherd just like Tank. We will have to make sure to label all the pictures we take with and of them.
Aggie is Minnie's little sister who is learning the ropes from day 1. Aggie is currently in the puppy stage and we are working with her on leash work and obedience.
Renee is working 2 teams right now which is a lot of work but she is willing to put in the time and so are we.
Tom is a firefighter and joins us with his newest rescue Willie. Willie has instantly bonded with Tom which makes him a great candidate for Service Dog training.
Tom and his wife have already been doing a great job working with Willie on obedience and fear training.
Mike is a veteran and flight nurse. Vinny is the cutest lil SDiT with big personality and tiny legs that seem to have no trouble keeping up.
Vinny was instantly bonded to Mike and gauges his emotions well.
Jeremy is a firefighter in Georgia
His service dog Arie is fully trained but they are looking to add a few new tasks and keep up on the old ones with us.
We enjoy seeing their journey and seeing all the great things they are doing together. Things our teams will also be doing some day soon.
Adam is a Army National Guard Veteran and joins our program with Aggie's brother, Flash!
Flash is picking up quick to basic obedience and going out in public.
Flash is in tune with Adams emotions and that is already growing as they work together through training sessions.
Jeremy is a former firefighter in Texas who is training with a trainer down in his home state.
Jeremy and Mack are a part of our group virtually for extra tips, tricks, coaching and the comradery of the other first responders going through the same journey.
Hailey is the daughter of a retired police officer with PTSD and is part of our ESA program. You also might recognize her as she is also on our team and helps in all areas.
Both of Hailey dogs are rescues and like most pit bulls I have met, are the sweetest boys. Midas (on the left) is the sweetest old man soul, he is learning a lot but is older so everything isn't as easy for him. Levi (on the right) is a head strong, active sweetheart that we are working with specifically for Hailey's needs.
William is the teenage son of veteran parents. Both mom and dad are Army veterans.
Nala is a golden retriever puppy that we are helping with some obedience training that will then move into some emotional support help for anything that may be helpful for William and the rest of the family.
She is sweet, curious and enjoys her training sessions. We can already see she likes having a job.
Tracy is a retired police officer and was a part of our service dog training program in 2021.
Elvis is a English Bulldog and has been by Tracy's side through thick and thin. He has been very helpful to her mental wellness and is such an asset to this amazing officer
Elvis is so sweet and well mannered, great to work with but due to his stamina and ability to "keep up" with a full days work he is better suited for ESA.
Matt is a retired fire Capitan, author and the founder/president of our nonprofit as well as one of our k9 coaches.
Jax was the first dog in our program and is performing tasks for Matt. Jax also provides public education in the community as a face of the charity.
John is a retired police officer. "Due to my health I am unable to fly or drive/ride long distances. Matt was very helpful in the entire process. Ziva has helped me so much since she has gotten here. I feel a lot more comfortable staying home by myself now. She is with me all the time where ever I go. She needs to make sure the scene is safe."
- John, GA
Troy is an Air Force veteran and retired fire captain in Minnesota. We were honored to place service dog Kato with Troy. Kato fit right in to his new life with Troy and his family within days of placement.
We thank Becca Curtis at Off Leash K9 Training for training Kato.
Pat "Gumby" is an Army veteran and first responder at Foreston Fire.
Dee-ka has retired from our program after 2 litters of puppies. While she is not a task trained service dog, she is a well trained, beautiful gal that provides Gumby and his wife protection as well as emotional support.