A new ‘leash’ on life: Non-profit trains shelter dogs to help ve - KPTV - FOX 12

A new ‘leash’ on life: Non-profit trains shelter dogs to help veterans with PTSD

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Bolt, a rescue dog, helps his owner concentrate and feel less stressed. (KPTV image). Bolt, a rescue dog, helps his owner concentrate and feel less stressed. (KPTV image).
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VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

A non-profit is training local shelter dogs and pairing them with veterans to help them cope with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The dogs go through seven months to a year of training before they are matched with a veteran, Northwest Battle Buddies, the non-profit in charge of the service, says.

Some of the dogs are from breeders, but many are from shelters and might have otherwise been euthanized, Shannon Walker, a trainer with the organization, says.

“We saved a life to save a life,” Walker said. “This is the greatest life for any dog. They have the structure, they get to be with their human 24/7 and they get to work.”

New owners Friday met with their dogs for week three of handler training at Vancouver Mall.

Northwest Battle Buddies says that if all goes well, each dog will be gifted to their new battle buddy at the end of six weeks.

Brian Keith, a 10-year army veteran, says he’s getting to know his new chocolate lab, Bolt, a little better each week.

“He’s great, he makes me feel good,” Keith said. ‘He makes me feel safe.”

For Keith and other veterans at the mall Friday, the concept of a battle buddy resonates.

Keith says Bolt, a rescue, helps him concentrate, feel less stressed and focus on something other than his PTSD.

He credits Northwest Battle Buddies for giving him and Bolt another shot at life and giving him the confidence to do more, see more and not have to worry about the stress of being outside.

“He’s my battle buddy for sure,” Keith said.

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