We owe so much to our veterans. I have the utmost respect for people who have served in the military. Too many of our veterans have severe injuries and/or suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A service dog can make a huge difference in their lives. If you are a veteran or know one who needs a service dog or a companion animal, I hope you will check out these organizations. Many of the dogs trained by these organizations are former rescues.
I initially featured Frank Simon’s portraits of Patriot Rovers participants in 2012.
Every dog in the Patriot Rovers program undergoes extensive socializing and training to become a Psychiatric Service Dog. After the dog completes his training, the dog and veteran participate in a 40-hour training course. Additionally, they receive a starter package of dog food as well as basic dog care items.
Other Organizations Connecting Veterans and Dogs
4 Paws 4 Patriots is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established to provide free service dogs to disabled veterans across the United States. We utilize various resources, including staff trainers, contract trainers, and local animal shelters, to provide service dogs, training, and equipment to Disabled American Veterans across the country.
Freedom Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by rescuing dogs and custom training them for individual client needs. Clients include children, veterans and active-duty soldiers, and other adults. People with the following conditions may be eligible for a service dog: Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord injuries, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Our dogs come from shelters and rescue groups. They learn to pick up items, open doors, pull wheelchairs, go for help, turn on lights, and 50 other commands. They also assist in programs for humane education, disabilities awareness, character development for at-risk youth, and rehabilitation therapy.
Hero Dogs: Serving the Washington DC area, Hero Dogs places dogs with veterans who have a disabling medical condition (does not need to be service-connected).
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two more organizations. Pets For Patriots and Pets For Vets differ from the above organizations because they do not provide service dogs. Instead, they help military (former and current) personnel adopt companion pets.
Pets For Patriots: We exist to transform the lives of our veterans by helping them save an at-risk shelter dog or cat. With your support, we can end animal homelessness in the U.S. and enrich the lives of the men and women who serve and have served our country.
Pets For Vets: Our goal is to help heal the emotional wounds of military veterans by pairing them with a shelter animal specially selected to match his or her personality. Professional animal trainers rehabilitate the animals and teach them good manners to fit into the veteran’s lifestyle. Training can also include desensitization to wheelchairs or crutches as well as recognizing panic or anxiety disorder behaviors.
Sierra Delta: Needy shelter animals receive a second chance at life while giving our returning soldiers a second chance at health and happiness. The bonds of friendship formed between man and animal have the power to ease the suffering of our troops when they return from overseas. They also partner with Blue Buffalo to help veterans.
Do you know another organization that I should add to this list?
About Simon Photographic: Currently based in Tucson, Arizona, Frank is available for commercial photography, headshots, and a limited number of weddings. He loves to travel.