FHS’ Service Animal Project featured on CNN Nov. 11

Published 10:56 pm Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On Oct. 17 in Ponte Vedra, Fla., five men and their newly-certified psychological service dogs were honored at a graduation ceremony.

FHS’ Service Animal Project featured on CNN Nov. 11

FHS’ Service Animal Project featured on CNN Nov. 11

This was the October 2013 class of K9s for Warriors and among the graduates were Luke, who is retired from the U.S. Army and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and his dog, Justice, formerly known as Buddy, from Hendersonville County Animal Services.
Justice got to Florida through Service Animal Project (SAP), a small group of local volunteers operating via Foothills Humane Society (FHS), who assess local shelter and rescue dogs that show desirable traits for psychological service animals. SAP is 100 percent supported by private donations.

If the dogs assess well, SAP gets them housed with a foster that will socialize and take him/her to basic obedience classes offered through FHS.

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The dogs are then transported to K9s for Warriors in Florida, where they receive specialized training and are matched with a warrior with PTSD and/or traumatic brain injury. The dogs and warriors train together for three weeks, and then graduate with their certificates.  K9s provides the dogs to the warriors free of charge.

Justice is the sixth dog from SAP to graduate from K9s since August 2012, and the second one who came from Hendersonville. His warrior, Luke, was unsure that a dog would help him with his PTSD, and even considered not going to K9s shortly before he was due to arrive.

Thankfully he had support and encouragement and did arrive in Florida as scheduled, and found a loving bundle of fur that just wants to be glued to someone was waiting for him. Luke and Justice bonded beautifully and Luke knows that he now has Justice to lean on when he is having a rough day.



Luke, Justice and SAP’s seventh dog, Bomber, from Blue Ridge Humane Society, will be prominently featured in a half-hour CNN special about K9s on Veterans Day, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Bomber has been chosen and is being trained specifically for a soldier who survived the shootings at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas in November 2009.

If all goes well and that special bond forms, they will graduate this December.

“The personnel at K9s have been thrilled with the dogs that have come to them from SAP, stating that SAP provides them the best dogs,” Sev Bennett said. “There is no doubt that these shelter dogs from western North Carolina are making a world of difference in the lives of six warriors and their families, and those warriors have in turn made a world of difference in the lives of the dogs.”

The waiting list for a psychological service dog is at least one year, so the need for dogs who will respond to this specialized training is great.

As SAP continues working with the shelters and rescues to provide more dogs, there is an increased need for fosters and transporters from the community.

SAP provides food for the dogs while in foster care, and reimburses expenses for transport.

If you are interested in being a foster for one of these dogs, or you are interested in transporting them to Florida, contact SAP at serviceanimalproject@windstream.net.

Monetary donations for SAP should be sent to SAP, c/o FHS, P.O. Box 126, Tryon, N.C. 28782.  Make your check payable to “Foothills Humane Society” and note “Service Animal Project” on the check, to ensure that your donation is directed properly.

Remember to tune in to CNN on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. Eastern.

– article submitted by Sev Bennett