OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) – Patriot Assistance Dogs (PSD) is a Marion County-based nonprofit that trains service dogs for veterans, but the organization needs local volunteers to help raise puppies that have just started training.
“We have five puppies and two teenagers, so we’re definitely looking for volunteers,” said Victoria Sanderson, volunteer coordinator for PSD.
All costs of raising and training a service dog are covered by the non-profit organization.
“We cover food, toys, treats, etc. It’s a commitment of time and love and it’s a commitment to the rules they have to follow. We don’t want it to be a financial burden,” Sanderson said.
The nonprofit provides dogs to veterans struggling with mobility issues, PTSD or loss of limbs.
“So they can get your keys, turn on your lights, and we also teach them some PTSD-specific commands to help them out,” Sanderson said.
The dogs train with volunteer breeders/trainers for two years before finding their forever homes.
“When we get a dog that is about to graduate, we look at their strengths and the needs of our pool of veteran applicants. W then tries to match what a veteran needs with what the dog naturally really excels at.
All dogs are sponsored by members of the community, which allows the organization to not charge veterans anything for their dogs.
“It’s $7,500 to sponsor a dog and it covers just about everything, including vet visits, throughout their two years of training,” she said.
Sanderson mentioned that a veteran had severe PTSD and when he came to practice he used to sit in the corner facing the door…until he meets his service dog, Tucker.
“When he got tucker he just felt like he was safe and he didn’t have to. Tucker recognized the symptoms of his anxiety and PTSD and stopped the cycle so he could finally enjoy life again.
The non-profit organization continues to strive to change lives with its furry friends.
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