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Service Dogs Bring Independence to Veterans this Fourth of July

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For three new service dog graduates, July 4, 2020 has a very special meaning. 

These veterans, who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, marked the first service dog class to return to the Southeastern Guide Dogs campus since the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown in March. While many organizations have not yet resumed operations, Southeastern Guide Dogs is welcoming students back to campus following the implementation of rigorous protocols for the health and safety of staff, volunteers and dogs.

Southeasternclass 289 5 2 Min
SOUTHEASTERN GUIDE DOGS Service dog class #289, Teresa and service dog Scott, trainer Anne Savo, Marc and service dog Scooter, trainer Laska Parrow, and Mike and service dog Ryan.

These three heroes, representing 30 years of service in the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, finished their 11 days of training at the end of June, and left for their Florida homes with their new, four-legged best friends. After years of struggling with the isolation, anxiety, hyper-vigilance and other challenges of PTSD, Independence Day arrives with renewed hope for living lives filled with freedom and new possibilities.

When the fireworks explode in the sky on July 4, Teresa, Marc and Mike will have their service dogs by their sides to offer them comfort.

Teresa is an Army veteran who did not know that she could be eligible for a service dog for her PTSD until she learned about Southeastern Guide Dogs from her VA counselor. Now, her dog Scott reassures her with his combination of alertness and calm, replacing her fears with hope.

Navy veteran Marc did six deployments around the world, retiring to civilian life in 2015. But anxiety and depression derailed his future. Enter easygoing, smart Scooter, who has relieved Marc’s PTSD symptoms and given him new joy.

Even though he lived just 12 minutes from Southeastern Guide Dogs for years, Marine Mike knew nothing about service dogs. Now his 17-year struggle with PTSD has been tempered by an affectionate, energetic dog named Ryan, who makes all the difference in Mike’s outlook.

If you are a veteran or know one who could benefit from the extraordinary gifts of a Southeastern Guide Dogs service dog, please apply today. Services and dogs are provided at no cost and include extensive benefits such as premium dog food, yearly veterinary wellness care, vaccines and preventatives for the life of a guide or service dog team. Click here to learn more.

Each and every dog transforms a veteran’s life.

About Southeastern Guide Dogs

Southeastern Guide Dogs transforms lives by creating and nurturing extraordinary partnerships between people and dogs. The organization operates the most advanced training facilities of any service dog organization in the world. Experts breed, raise, and train elite working dogs—including guide dogs, service dogs, and skilled companion dogs—and provide life-changing services for people with vision loss, veterans with disabilities, and children with significant challenges such as vision loss or the loss of a parent in the military. Pursuing their mission since 1982, Southeastern Guide Dogs now has over 1,200 dogs under our auspices.

All services—which include selective breeding and expert dog training; comprehensive on-campus student instruction; and the most robust alumni support program in North America—are provided at no cost to recipients. The organization relies 100% on private donations. Southeastern Guide Dogs has the distinction of being dually accredited by the two premier, global accreditation bodies: the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.  Learn more at www.GuideDogs.org.

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