Pasco dog trainer pairs puppies with struggling veterans

PASCO, Wash. – For over seven years Service Peace Warriors in Pasco has paired many veterans suffering from PTSD with a friendly K-9 partner.

Service Peace Warriors is a non-profit organization that focuses on raising and training various breeds that can meet the needs of struggling veterans.

Any honorably discharged American service member as well as officers and first responders suffering from PTSD can apply for the program.

Mary Mattox, founder of Service Peace Warriors, says this year they had a dog that wasn’t interested in anyone until a veteran who she says was in great need of support came by.

“We had a veteran come by and I knew he wasn’t going to make it through this coming winter without some kind of help. And it’s crazy that this dog in particular went straight to him and the relationship that’s growing there is incredible,” said Mattox.

Mary, who suffers from PTSD herself, says winter months can increase PTSD symptoms. Mainly because of less hours of sunlight during the day and an increased chance of isolation, which is why she and her team are working extra hard this time of year.

“This year we’re actually putting out 18 dogs. Chance and I have another business where we put out dogs for first responders, and we have the first dog going out to a police officer with PTSD in Washington state,” said Mattox.

According to Mary, a service dog provides a sense of emotional and psychological security to a veteran. For example, these dogs are trained to wake the veteran at night if the veteran seems to be having nightmare.

Another example, dogs can be trained to sit behind a veteran to alert them if someone is approaching from any angle.

She says this can make the veteran feel safer, less anxious and less agitated.

“It just makes life a little easier on getting out there and be able to be apart of the family again,” said Mattox.

If your interested in supporting their cause you can help by becoming a puppy raiser or by purchasing items from EFC Equipment Feed and Pet in Richland.

More information, including how to join the program, can be found here.

Find more Tri-Cities news here.

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