The pioneering Pups4Patriots program, an initiative of American Humane’s Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs, continues saving and changing lives through the healing power of the human-animal bond. Through the Pups4Patriots program, more than 160 specially trained service dogs have been paired with veterans diagnosed with either post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury.
To celebrate this monumental achievement, American Humane is hosting a special gala dinner to pay tribute to recent graduates of the program. This year’s celebration will feature a quarantine bubble, virtual seating and live music, courtesy of Alex Donner Entertainment.
For many brave members of the Armed Forces, coming home as a civilian is only the beginning of another daunting battle. The debilitating symptoms of PTS and TBI can lead to depression, social isolation and, far too often, suicide. For Joni, a recent Pups4Patriots grad, being paired with a service dog has changed her life. After just a few days of training, Joni felt, “like I can already walk through a park without looking over my shoulder and my anxiety is almost nonexistent.”
The Pups4Patriots program trains carefully selected dogs and pairs them with veterans in need. These specially trained service dogs can reduce stress and anxiety levels, mitigate depression, ease social reintegration, provide comfort and restore confidence in affected veterans. There are many obstacles standing in the way of veterans in need of service dogs, however, including long waiting lists and exorbitant costs, reaching upwards of $30,000 per service dog.
Tony, U.S. Army veteran, who served in both Korea and Germany, was paired with Duchess, a one-and-a-half-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer. According to Tony, having Duchess “integrated in my life and my family’s life helps me maintain calmness and go places and feel comfortable.”
Service dogs perform a variety of tasks, including grounding and creating space. When a service dog responds to a grounding cue, they rest their entire body against their handler. Just the dog’s physical touch can ground the veteran and help de-escalate their anxiety. For those who are uncomfortable in large crowds, or with people being in their personal space, upon the handler’s cue, a service dog will position him or herself in front or behind the handler to create space between the handler and other people.
“As we continue to face uncertain times, this celebration serves as a rallying point to bring us together to provide veterans in need with the healing power of our four-legged friends,” according to Robin Ganzert, Ph.D., president and CEO of American Humane. “Service dogs are an invaluable asset to veterans with trauma, and our annual Pups4Patriots gala will help us literally save lives on both ends of the leash.”
Through the generous support of its donors, including the DAV Gold Coast Chapter 133 which will be in attendance, and philanthropist Lois Pope, American Humane is able to provide service dogs and training to veterans at no charge to them.
To attend the Pups4Patriots Service Dogs Celebration virtually or in-person, email Jill Nizan at JillN@AmericanHumane.org, call the American Humane Palm Beach office at 561/537-5887 or visit www.AmericanHumane.org.
This post is sponsored by American Humane