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Canines For Service

June 30, 2020

This Wilmington, North Carolina, nonprofit trains service dogs to help veterans with everything from PTSD to mobility.

Based out of North Carolina and veteran-founded almost 25 years ago, Canines for Service’s amazing rescue-turned-service dogs have been taught to help veterans with mobility limitations, PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.

The dogs that graduate this program are trained in 90 commands, so they can do everything from retrieving objects that are dropped, to pulling a wheelchair, to opening doors, to loading a washer and unloading a dryer. They can even help their handlers with dressing and undressing.

Susan Heaton, the CEO of Canines for Service, said these dogs act almost like the veteran’s bodyguard.

“They can create space in a crowd,” she explained. “A lot of times, large groups of people are an issue for veterans with PTSD so the service canine can create a barrier around them as people start to get into their personal space.”

Another amazing aspect to Heaton’s nonprofit is the commitment to the dogs they rescue. These pups remain cared for by the facility, even if they don’t turn out as suitable service dogs. Canines for Service watches over them until they find a home.

“These dogs come in somewhat broken and scared and they’ve been tossed away,” Heaton said. “We take them through our trainers and give them a behavioral assessment. The Veteran comes into us in a similar way, so they really do need each other. The bond between the two is incredible to see.”

The Canines for Service application process is extensive, but once approved, the organization helps veterans from all over the country.

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