Salisbury Organization Trains Rescue Dogs for Wounded Veterans - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Salisbury Organization Trains Rescue Dogs for Wounded Veterans

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SALISBURY, Md. - A non-profit organization in Salisbury is helping veterans get back on their feet with animals who have four feet. 

U.S. Kennels Inc. celebrated two years at the Holly Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony this week. The organization helps wounded combat veterans train their dogs so that their furry friends can help and support them with every day tasks. 

Founder Chris Hardy served in Afghanistan and is a disabled veteran himself. He said the program is saving two lives at a time. U.S. Kennels rescues dogs and pairs them with veterans. 

"We're trying to rescue two things at once," Hardy said. "So, we're basically pairing two unwanted things together and then they have each other."

Hardy said veterans can either bring in their own dog to see if they can be trained as a service dog, or veterans can be paired with a rescue dog. The dogs then go through various steps to learn things like how to sit or lay down, before the dogs learn tasks that help each individual veteran. The idea, Hardy says, is to work alongside the veteran in the training process.

"There are so many different types of scenarios out in the world that we can't train for but they're already trained to know how to handle that situation so it helps them out in the long run," Hardy said. 

Fellow veteran Richard Barnes is training his dog Patty to get her certifications.

"It helps us a great deal," Barnes said. "These dogs, they really have a calming nature to them. You can be as angry as anything and you know, your dogs are there and they love you to death."

The program is free for veterans and the training takes about a year to complete. It's a process that Hardy said is saving lives. 

"I've had I don't know how many veterans in our program, even before they're done and everything, they've come to me [and said] 'Chris, I sat here the other day with a gun to my head. You guys brought me out of this funk. You saved my life.' I've heard that from so many people in different manners as well," Hardy said.

U.S. Kennels has graduated 18 service dogs. 25 are currently in the program. All of its services, like grooming, are free for wounded veterans and its all done through donations. 

"It's the best therapy. You can't go nowhere and pay for nothing as good as this," Barnes said. 

 

 

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