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Patriot PAWS to host service dog graduation at prison

(ROCKWALL, TX – April 25, 2017) Patriot PAWS Service Dogs, in partnership with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), will hold their Spring 2017 Graduation ceremony at the Christina Melton Crain Unit/Sycamore Satellite in Gatesville, TX at 10 a.m. Friday, April 28.  For the female offenders assigned to the Patriot PAWS Prison Training Program/Crain Unit, it will be an affirmation of their commitment to give back to others during their incarceration by helping disabled veterans.  For the five disabled veterans receiving a Patriot PAWS Service Dog, it will be the beginning of a partnership with their service dog that will help to restore both their physical and emotional independence.

Patriot PAWS, based in Rockwall, is a non-profit whose mission is to train and provide service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans.  Patriot PAWS has placed over 130 dogs in 33 states across the U.S. since its inception in 2006.

“There are 1.3 million veterans in Texas alone and a staggering average of 22 veterans commit suicide in America daily,” said Patriot PAWS Executive Director and Founder, Lori Stevens.  “Patriot PAWS receives over 100 requests weekly for a service dog application. We could not do what we do without the outstanding support and help from the TDJC and the offender trainers that help us train our dogs.”

The Patriot PAWS Spring 2017 Graduation is generously sponsored by Service Dogs For Heroes.  An official Program of Nantucket Holidays for Heroes, Service Dogs For Heroes is working to create a national network that provides connectivity between veterans, accredited service dog providers, and benevolent supporters.  BJ Ganem, spokesperson and leader of the Service Dogs For Heroes Program, will speak at the graduation event on Friday.  BJ is a decorated war veteran who lost his leg in Iraq.  He is strong advocate for disabled veterans.

Meet the Veterans and their Service Dogs

Michael Lammey, a 34-year-old Navy veteran from San Antonio, TX received debilitating burns in a boiler explosion on board his ship.

Michael hopes his service dog, Stan, will help him gain more independence to perform everyday tasks and relieve his wife of some of her caretaking duties.

 

 

 

 

Adam Almquist was severely injured while serving as a Navy Hospital Corpsman.

The 42-year-old, Houston, TX native looks forward to his service dog, Gator, helping him retrieve items, alerting to his seizures and getting help, and providing comfort and companionship when he is travelling for his business.

 

 

 

 

Todd Baker is a 35-year old Army veteran from Saginaw, Michigan who served in combat while deployed to Iraq.

With the help of his service dog, Kelly, Todd hopes to be able to return to school and finish his college education.

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Nunnery, a veteran of both the Navy and the Army, sustained serious injuries when the Humvee he was riding in took a direct hit from a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG).

Chris, a 45-year-old resident of Keller, TX, is looking forward to his service dog, Papi, helping him with stability while standing and walking, and assisting in everyday chores and tasks.

 

Wally Silguero, a 46-year-old Army veteran from Corpus Christi, TX, served in Iraq during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Wally’s service dog, Izzy, will help him continue to gain confidence and independence in public environments, allowing him to enjoy his family and enjoy life more and more each day.

 

 

 

These five service dogs have received extensive training at Patriot PAWS since they were 6-8 weeks old in preparation to serve their veterans.   The offender trainers who volunteer in the Patriot PAWS Prison Training Program are instrumental in training the dogs to learn behaviors and cues like opening doors and cabinets, retrieving phones, and opening and closing appliances like a washer, dryer or refrigerator.  During their 2-2 ½ years at Patriot PAWS, they rotate through training periods at the TDCJ, the Texas A&M Aggieland Puppy Raiser Program, the Dallas-Fort Worth Puppy Raiser Program and at Patriot PAWS’ main campus in Rockwall, TX.

To attend graduation, or for more information about Patriot PAWS, please call 972-772-3282, or visit the website at patriotpaws.org.

Submitted press release by Sharon Satterwhite, Director of Development, Patriot PAWS Service Dogs. Photographs courtesy of Donna Dicksson Photography.

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