Service dogs the new weapon to fight PTSD - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Service dogs the new weapon to fight PTSD


LifeLine Animal Project is starting a pilot program to give a veteran a fully certified service dog.

The dog name is Maverick, a 6-month-old puppy who was found running around the streets of Atlanta.

"Maverick was a homeless dog running around the streets," Therra Gwyn, communications director for LifeLine Animal Project, said.  "How he didn't end up as road kill we don't know."

It was Gwyn's idea to train a service dog to give to a vet - an idea she said wasn't hard to make.

"PTSD from my own experience and being around people that suffer from it makes your world a lot smaller," Gwyn said.  "I was on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, I lost my mother because of the storm (Hurricane Katrina), I lost my house, I basically lost everything in a quick period of time, PTSD is a hell that's not  like any other I have ever experienced.  So, this was our way of helping."

Trainer Lori Shanks, who now spends 24/7 training Maverick, said he is one out of a million.

"Dogs have remarkable, almost magical abilities when it comes to areas of the mind and physical disabilities, I am getting chill bumps just thinking about it, it is for the greater good that we are doing this," Shanks said.  "A lot of the returning vets, their family suffers right along with them because they are going through these different ups and downs.  The rage, the depression and their families are constantly trying to help them pick up the pieces, a constant companion and reliable being like a dog is exactly what some of them need."

The cost for LifeLine to train the dog is approximately $10,000 to $12,000.  That price tag is something Gwyn isn't worried about.

"It fills me with hope that somebody - and hopefully as time goes on that more people with PTSD - will not suffer as much by having these dogs," Gwyn said.  "I think it is a small price to pay to say thank you."

Maverick is still undergoing extensive training and will be matched with a vet once Shanks feels that he is ready.  At this stage in the process, they are still looking for a vet to try and match Maverick up with.

For more information on LifeLine Animal Project, click here.

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