Have you seen a person with a disability being helped by a canine companion and wondered, “Wow, how does the dog do that?” Well, these service dogs undergo a lengthy and vigorous training process before being matched with a partner.
Hero Dogs, Inc. is a Maryland 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to train and place service dogs (“Hero Dogs ™”) with military veterans who become disabled while serving honorably in the United States Armed Forces.
Today’s returning veterans have different and special needs and challenges. Many have multiple physical injuries, severe lifelong disabilities, traumatic brain injury, or post-traumatic stress disorder. A service dog can help a veteran with a disability achieve independence. The dogs are 24/7 companions that can open doors, retrieve and carry objects, call attention to safety hazards, help with balance difficulties, and relieve stress. With the aid of a service dog, a disabled veteran has an extra hand (or paw!) to help him get back on his feet and on with his life.
The journey to a successful partnership begins in puppyhood and ends with the pairing of a highly skilled service dog with a new veteran friend and partner. Puppies are initially placed in volunteer homes where they are lovingly raised and trained. Opening one’s home and heart to a Hero Dog puppy is a labor of love which requires a tremendous commitment of time and effort. The puppies are then paired with trainers for specific task training. Once a dog successfully completes this training, it is matched with a qualified veteran applicant. Applicants are selected based on criteria such as an individual’s specific disabilities, medical and psychological status, and ability to provide long-term care for the service dog. Finally, the dog and veteran work together under the trainer’s guidance, culminating in a team graduation!
Hero Dogs depends on donations, gifts and fundraising events to support its efforts to provide these dogs, at no cost, to our deserving veterans. Any size contribution is greatly appreciated. If you want to be a Hero Dogs puppy raiser, please read about puppy raising on our website www.hero-dogs.org and submit a volunteer application. If you can’t raise a puppy, you can sponsor one. When you sponsor a puppy, you make a donation that covers most of the puppy’s needs during training, up until the time he is matched with a veteran. Hero Dogs relies on volunteers to fill a variety of roles – if you would like to donate your time or skills, please visit our website to see some ways you might be able to help.