Pairing service dogs with military veterans suffering from PTSD has proven to help the healing process. According to the National Center for Health Research, studies have shown that a dog's presence, loyalty and love are known to improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and regulating the heart rate during stressful situations. Paws of War, was founded to help those military veterans by training rescued dogs to be service dogs. Now, their mission is expanding to incorporate a Paws of War Therapy program, in honor and memory of US Air Force Veteran Duane Franzone.
"A few years ago, we saved a pitbull mix, Jada. She'd been living under a dirt crawlspace with a broken jaw. Jada was trained to become Duane's service dog and she meant the world to him," says Dori Scofield, executive director of Paws of War. "After Duane passed away, his family wanted to carry out his legacy of helping other veterans. That is what inspired us to start a therapy program."
The Paws of War Therapy Program will train rescued dogs to become the best therapy dogs they can be before visiting any facilities that help veterans. Therapy dogs' responsibilities include:
- Provide psychological or physiological therapy to individuals other than their handlers/owners
- Maintain stable temperaments and friendly, easy-going personalities
- Visit various institutions like hospitals, schools, hospices, psychotherapy offices, nursing homes and more
Many veterans at medical facilities also miss the love and companionship of their own family pets while they are away from home. Bringing in canine therapy does wonders for them. The animals draw out even the most isolated personality, and having to praise the animals helps traumatized veterans overcome emotional numbness.
We anticipate getting many dogs and veterans involved with this program so that we can continue our work of helping both ends of the leash," states Scofield. "We are both honored to provide this service in Duane's memory and to expand our work with canines and veterans through our Paws of War program."
Paws of War is an all volunteer organization that provides assistance to military members with their pets, and provides service and therapy dogs to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. To learn more, get involved, or to make a donation to support Paws of War please visit the website: www.pawsofwar.org.