Purina Service Dog Salute helps pair veterans with pawsome companions

Julia LeDoux
October 05, 2020 - 6:15 pm


Ranger saved Army veteran Phillip Brown’s life in every possible way that a psychiatric service dog can.

“I am no longer scared to leave my house,” said Brown. “I am able to talk publicly about my PTSD and other things life has thrown my way and I am able to enjoy my family and friends. He has given me my life back.”

In honor of National Service Dog Awareness Month, Purina Dog Chow is launching its third annual Service Dog Salute campaign, which supports the care and training of service dogs for the nation’s military veterans. 

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"Service dogs provide so many benefits for military veterans, but it can cost over $20,000 on average to train one service dog – and less than 1 percent of veterans who need one can get one," explained TV personality and military advocate Bobby Bones. 

Brown, whose nine year military career included three tours in Iraq, was medically retired due to injuries he received while deployed. He was paired with Ranger by Got Your Six Support Dogs.

“A service dog is not a crutch. Accepting that you need a service dog and willing to reach out to get one shows true courage,” said Brown. “Too many of our brothers and sisters have lost their battle to PTSD. Service dogs help keep the monsters at bay. You deserve to live your best life and service dogs help you conquer the hell we have seen.”

Psychiatric service dogs are not the same as emotional support, therapy or companion dogs. Like service dogs for the blind, deaf and physically disabled, psychiatric service dogs for veterans must be specifically trained to help their handler perform tasks they cannot otherwise perform on their own.

The training process can take from one to two-and-a-half years to learn to perform tasks such as:

  • Placing body weight on the veteran to promote a sense of calm during panic attacks.
  • Waking the veteran from upsetting dreams or night terrors.
  • Reminding the veteran to take medications.
  • Alerting the veteran when someone is approaching from behind.
  • Patrolling the perimeter of a room for triggers and threats.

"When our veterans come home from service, they may not be equipped to live their life without these dogs,” said Bones.

From now through Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), for every purchase of a specially marked bag, Dog Chow will make a donation to its two partnering veteran service dog organizations, up to a total of $100,000. The donations will be split equally between the Pets & Vets program at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation and Got Your Six Support Dogs.

"As a veteran, I am sensitive to the many issues fellow veterans face as they transition after their service; those who faced combat often have the greatest challenges," said Steve Degnan, Chief Human Resources Officer for Nestlé Purina North America.

These dogs are specially trained to help veterans with PTSD, even interrupting nightmares

Purina and Dog Chow are also working with members of Congress in support of federal legislation to provide training and service dogs for veterans. The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act (HR4305) will create a pilot program in the VA to give veterans access to treatment derived from working with service dogs. The bill has been approved by the House, but still awaits passage in the Senate. To support this legislation, visit here.

Over the last three years, Dog Chow has donated over $700,000 to support the training of more service dogs for military veterans.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com

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