Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet Launches Warriors’ Angels Program in Texas

Program aims to assist Military Members and Veterans Diagnosed with PTSD through Assistance Service Canines

Gatesville, TX, August 7, 2014 – Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet© announces the implementation of the Warriors’ Angels (WA) Program in the state of Texas initially in the San Antonio area with plans to expand the program to Central TX during 3rd and 4th Qtr. 2014, and Dallas/Fort Worth areas plus Fort Bliss/El Paso during1st and 2nd quarters 2015.

Warriors' Angels LogoThe purpose of the program is to support and help our military service members and veterans officially diagnosed with “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD). The program’s “support team” will be involved with identifying/evaluating potential Assistance Service Canines (ASCs), matching the ASC candidate with a specific applicant, overseeing the appropriate training and certification of these WA Teams, and providing on-going follow-up with each program certified teams following graduation until such time as the ASC is no longer able to perform the task they were trained for.

Warriors’ Angels in Texas is being implemented based on the premise that all parties involved (WA Coordination Liaison volunteer, the accepted applicant, and authorized “Training and the AKC Certified Testing” service providers) agree to coordinate, evaluate, train, certify, and follow-up with the certified WA Team according to the “Assistance Dogs International” (ADI) published minimum standards for assistance dogs.

Cherie Boudreaux of San Antonio, TX has been appointed as the interim WA Coordination Liaison volunteer overseeing the program in San Antonio. Ms. Boudreaux will be working with each Handler candidate and the chosen training/certifying service providers in San Antonio.   Besides, Ms. Boudreaux we welcome Beverly Benson (K9 BFF, Inc.), Kay Dyer, Robyn Slusky, and Carolyn Keiser (K9 Behavior) as the San Antonio Warriors’ Angels program trainers. Carolyn Keiser will also be providing Warriors’ Angels program testing for Warriors’ Angels certification for each Team that completes the training part of the program and passes the program’s certification exam. The WA certification exam covers 3 areas including at this time the ADA minimum 3 tasks mitigating the Handler’s disability, the AKC “Canine Good Citizenship” (CGC) test, and the ADI “Public Access Test” (PAT).

The Assistance Service Canine (ASC) aka PTSD service dogs qualified candidate may be the applicant’s companion animal or a shelter/rescue canine. Each qualified ASC candidate must possess a perspective nature, have a courteous, compliant temperament, an intuitive spirit in order to perform their duties independently when their Handler is facing a crisis, and show no signs of aggression toward those they may come in contact with.

Once an “ASC” candidate has been identified, the Handler and such candidate will go through a training program involving up to 150 hours training time between “face-to-face” (with assigned trainer) training sessions and the “In-Training” team working together on a daily basis in preparation for the Warriors’ Angels program Certification testing.

Though there is no actual program 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. In addition they will need to have the energy and time to participate in the program and adhere to the ADI defined “Team Handler” standards.

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet established a Warriors’ Angels account to deposit donations that will help cover costs (estimated not to exceed $3,000 per WA “In Training” Team) related to up front veterinarian services, evaluation, training, the official Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet official service dog vest with a customized laminated Identification card, and other costs related to the program overall.

Program funding is 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 “Warriors’ Angels” (WA) fund account. To date donations in the amount of $23,000 including $17,500 from PetSmart allocated toward training/certifying 4 WA Teams and the WA Training Facility just southwest of Gatesville in Coryell County. Funding needed during the remainder of 2014 is $90,000 to begin training for an additional 5 WA Teams and build/implement the WA Training Facility.

According to Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet National CEO and the interim WA Program Director, Linda Spurlin-Dominik, though the DOD and VA at this time have issued specific directives regarding PTSD service dogs (previously known as emotional support dogs), there is nothing preventing us from developing and implementing a program that will further help these warriors to assist with such areas as proper training and testing using the ADI published minimal standards for assistance dogs in regards to providing these assistance canines to our military service members and veterans who have officially been diagnosed with PTSD and per the appropriate Warrior Transition Unit/VA Primary Care Manager feels having a properly trained assistance canine will be a benefit to the service member/veteran especially in public venues.

Per Ms. Spurlin-Dominik based on various articles that have been published over the last couple of years the need has grown as shown in the March 2013 Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, INC newsletter (www.medicalservicedogs.com/category/newsletters/) where they define that “Over 2 million veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD where over 400,000 are currently in treatment and an additional 33% of our returning troops are expected to come home with it”.

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet will be applying for ADI accreditation during December 2015 time frame per Ms. Spurlin-Dominik once the organization has met the ADI’s accreditation criteria related to having a minimum 3 program certified Teams which have been active for 1 year.

In addition, plans and fundraising efforts are underway to build a Warriors’ Angels Training Facility on the Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet property located southwest of Gatesville and approximately 14 miles west of Fort Hood. The training facility project is being handled by our affiliate MVP Sanctuary – TX and will be used for team training and holding public and military workshops about the program and PTSD. More details about the training facility is available at www.mvpsanctuary.org via the Project menu.

The organization would like to send a special “thank you” to Liz R. for designing the new Warriors’ Angels logo.

Additional Information:

Full details about the Warriors’ Angels program in Texas is available via the Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet website.

About Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet©:

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet© is a national ALL-volunteer 501(c)3 Military and Veteran Support Organization assisting active duty service members, wounded warriors, veterans, and their beloved companion animals or assistance service canines through various assistance programs. These programs include: the Military and Veteran Pet Foster Home Program, Military Pet Assistance fund, and the Warriors’ Angels Program (TX only). Unless stated otherwise programs are available in all 50 states and all Branches of Service including National Guard and Reserves. Learn more at www.guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org and follow our story on our blog, https://tailsfromthefrontline.wordpress.com. Also check out our affiliate organization, the MVP Sanctuary – Texas at www.mvpsanctuary.org.

Contacts:

Questions about the program or how to get involved in Texas may be directed to the Warriors’ Angels Program Director at waap@guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org.

Media inquiries may be directed to our Media Relations Coordinator at media@guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org.

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