All volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit military and veteran service organization cares for military and veterans’ companion pets.

Gatesville, TX, June 26, 2013 – Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet announces a new assistance program known as  “Warrior Angels” (WA) with the purpose helping our military members and veterans diagnosed with PTSD in identifying potential PTSD assistance canines, overseeing the appropriate training and certification of these assistance canines, and providing on-going follow-up with the Handlers and their assistance canines following graduation.  The program started as of April 1, 2013 and at this time is designated as a “pilot” (test) program in Rolla and Waynesville, MO.  The pilot program is interacting with the “Warrior Transition Unit” (WTU) at Fort Leonard Wood, evaluation/training/certifying service providers (Patriot Kennels, Inc. and Canine Connections Dog Training), and the Rolla Animal Shelter.

The pilot program was implemented based on the premise that all parties involved (the organization, pilot program’s Coordination Liaison volunteer, the accepted applicant, and authorized service providers) agree to coordinate, evaluate, train, certify, and follow-up with the Handler and assistance canine according to the “American Disabilities Act” (ADA) and “Assistance Dogs International” (ADI) published minimum standards for assistance dogs.

Susan Hinkle of Rolla, MO has been appointed as the organization’s WA Coordination Liaison overseeing the MO “pilot” program working with each Handler candidate and the chosen training/certifying service providers Patriot Kennels, Inc. (Jess Storie, owner/trainer) in Waynesville, MO and Canine Connections Dog Training (Jessi Queen, owner) participating in the MO pilot program.

In addition, where possible a pet owned currently by the Handler candidate is first choice to be evaluated to determine if the pet may be a good candidate to become an Warrior Angels’ certified “Assistance Canine” for his/her owner.  In the event the family pet does not meet the standards defined by the ADA and ADI, then the Rolla Animal Shelter in Rolla, MO has stepped forward as a “Supporter” to the pilot program by allowing the Handler candidate, Susan, and Jess to visit dogs in the shelter for identifying a potential “Assistance Canine” candidate.

Once an “assistance canine” candidate has been determined, the Handler and such candidate  will go through an up to 8-week training program in preparation for the “Canine Good Citizen” (CGC) and required “public access” tests in order for the chose canine to be certified as an “Assistance Canine” .

Though there is no actual fee charged to the Handler, the handler will be responsible for such “canine related expenses” regarding proper animal care, keeping the pet current on all required vaccinations, necessary veterinarian care, maintaining local licenses, and appropriate liability insurance.

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet through their MPA fund (donations earmarked as WA) will cover costs (estimated not to exceed $2,500 per assistance canine) related to up front veterinarian services, evaluation, training, the official Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet official service dog vest with Handler and Canine picture laminated Identification card, and other costs related to the pilot program overall.

The funds for the WA pilot program are being obtained through Direct Public Support donations received from individuals, businesses/corporations, and other organizations, earmarked as “WA)”, which will be administered through the organization’s “Military Pet Assistance” (MPA) fund account.

According to Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet National CEO, Linda Spurlin-Dominik, “though the DoD and VA at this time have issued specific directives regarding PTSD service dogs (basically known as emotional support dogs), there is nothing preventing us from developing and testing a program that will further help these warriors to assist with such areas as proper training and testing using the ADA and ADI published minimal standards for assistance dogs in regards to providing these assistance canines to our veterans who have officially been diagnosed with PTSD  and per the appropriate military/VA physician feels having a properly trained and certified “Assistance Canine” will be a benefit  to the service member/veteran especially in public venues.”

In addition to the pilot program in MO at this time, the organization is planning to establish the program initially as a “pilot” program in other states as warranted and the appropriate volunteers and service providers have been identified and commit to being part of the WA program within their respective state.

Questions related to the “Warriors Angels” pilot program in MO may be directed by email (waap@guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org) to the Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet national office while the official “Warriors’ Angels” program web page is being developed.  A separate announcement will be made that this has been completed and the page is available on the website.

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