DVMs assist program that provides service dogs for combat veterans - DVM
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DVMs assist program that provides service dogs for combat veterans


"The veterinary community, particularly in New England, is plugged into this program at many levels," Ovitsky says. "Besides those of us serving on the board, a large number of DVMs are providing free or discounted care for the puppies in foster homes and at the prisons. Also, veterinarians in the communities where the soldiers live continue to provide free or discounted care after the graduation."

Sheila O'Brien, executive director of NEADS, says the DVMs' help has been crucial to the success of "Canines for Combat Veterans."

"Ira (Kaplan) and Anita (Migday) handle all the spay/neutering and so much more for us. And Mike McTigue is here every month to make sure our puppies stay healthy," she says.

O'Brien explains that she and the NEADS directors saw a need three years ago to provide dogs for wounded war veterans, especially amputees in wheelchairs. They initiated contact with Walter Reed officials, who agreed to work with them.

Check-up time: Dr. Michael McTigue, owner of Gardner Animal Hospital in Gardner, MA, performs a monthly check-up on Mica, an 8-month-old Golden Retriever in training to become one of the "Canines for Combat Veterans." The animals wear blue jackets in public to designate them as service dogs.
"We knew this (war) would change the entire demographic of the disabled population in the United States, and it has," she says. NEADS normally asks disabled and deaf persons who receive service dogs to arrange some sort of community fund-raiser with a goal of at least $1,000 toward the approximately $9,500 total training cost.

"But for these veterans, we've waived that and are raising all the funds ourselves," O'Brien says. "They've done enough."

Ovitsky says news of the program has generated large and small donations from individuals, and attracted veterinary pharmaceutical firms as sponsors.

"One couple came in a few weeks ago and wrote a check for $1.2 million. They wanted the money to go specifically to help the veterans."

For details about NEADS and its program for veterans, visit http://www.neads.org/.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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