Service dog training programs connects with veterans in need

Service dog training programs connects with veterans in need

CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – After spending time as service animal trainers in New York, Bill and Jackie O’Brien packed up the business to open a branch here in Eastern Carolina.

Their nonprofit, Paws of War, connects veterans and first responders suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries with shelter puppies to train into service and therapy animals.

The National Center for PTSD says between 11% and 15% of veterans come back from service to receive a PTSD diagnosis.

Symptoms can include intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions, according to the Mayo Clinic.

After serving in the Marine Corps for five years, Mel Tufts returned to civilian life and found himself in need of a support animal. He connected with Paws of War who brought OSA into his life.

Mel and Osa pose for a picture.

Mel and Osa pose for a picture.

She was 12 pounds when Mel rescued her, and now she weighs in at just over 70 pounds, growing in intelligence and personality with each passing month.

Through the 18-month to 2-year program, Mel has learned how to communicate his needs to Osa.

Mel syays he’s already seen so much improvement in the training, and looks forward to his pup passing the certification test with flying colors.

For more information on the Paws of War chapter and training program, head to this link.

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