Marion County service dogs are on their way to serve those who’ve fought for our country

These dogs are on their way to serve those who have fought for our country.
Published: Jul. 24, 2022 at 11:26 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Patriot Service Dogs (PSD) is a non-profit based in Marion County, that trains service dogs for veterans, but the organization is in need of local volunteers to help raise puppies who have just begun their training.

“We do have five puppies coming in and two teenagers, so we are definitely on the hunt for volunteers,” said Victoria Sanderson, volunteer coordinator for PSD.

All costs to raise and train a service dog are covered by the non-profit.

“We cover food, toys, treats, etc. It’s a time and love commitment 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 non-profit provides dogs to veterans dealing with mobility issues, PTSD or loss of limbs.

“So they can pick up your keys, turn on your lights and we we also teach them some PTSD specific commands to help with that,” Sanderson said.

The dogs train with volunteer raisers/trainers for two years before they find their forever home.

“When we get a dog that’s about to graduate, we look at what their strengths are and what our applicant pool of veterans needs. W then try to match what a veteran needs and what the dog is naturally really excelling at.”

All dogs are sponsored by members of the community which allows the organization to charge veterans nothing for their dogs.

“It’s $7500 to sponsor a dog and that covers pretty much everything, including vet visits, throughout their two years of training,” she said.

Sanderson mentioned that one veteran suffered with severe PTSD and that when he came in for training, he used to sit in the corner facing the door...that is until he met his service dog, Tucker.

“When he had tucker, he just felt like he was safe and that he didn’t have to do that. Tucker recognized the symptoms of his anxiety and his PTSD and stopped the cycle so he could finally enjoy life again.”

The non-profit is continuing to strive to change lives with their furry friends.

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