In April 2018, the Healthy Paws Foundation announced the second run of our grant program, The Healthy Paws Rescue Race, funded through our “every quote gives hope” program. After six selected animal welfare organizations “raced” to the finish line, the foundation gave $50,000 total in grants: the organization that received the most votes won $20,000, second place won $10,000 and four finalists each took home $5,000. Provided below is the story of the finalist Dogs2DogTags from Sheboygan Falls, WI.
At Dogs2DogTags, their mission is to pair a service dog in need of a home with a veteran in need of unconditional love and support. They state: “Because we know that a veteran’s battles aren’t always over when he or she returns home, and that a dedicated service dog, provided at no cost, can be one of the simplest and most effective ways in which we can all stand by these brave men and women.”
The organization adopts shelter and rescue dogs, trains them to be companion and/or service dogs, and then they match them with veterans suffering from the effects of PTSD and other medical issues. From the moment they acquire a pup, Dogs2DogTags provides them with health checks, spay and neuter, and even comprehensive training so that each dog has a second chance at an amazing life. It’s after the health checks and training they match, based on personality and needs, the dogs to a veteran in need.
“It is one of the most beautiful experiences to see a dog who is in need of a loving home, bring so much joy and happiness to our service men and women in need,” says Jeff Edwards, CRO at Dogs2DogTags. “We provide the dogs free of charge to the vets and have an amazing after care program to make certain that both dogs and vets are doing well.”
In one such case, D2DTs shares a story of matching a vet with his new best friend, Anna. D2DT met Nate through some contacts at the VA (Veterans Affairs) in Wisconsin. A retired Marine who served in Africa and Iraq, he suffers from PTSD. He has a young family and spends time in the outdoors to deal with the ravaging effects of his time in combat; he loves to fish, camp and shed hunt in the woods and waters of his home state of Wisconsin. His dream was to have a dog that could travel with him in these pursuits as well as walk beside him in social settings that stir up his social anxiety.
Dogs2DogTags found Anna, a 6-year-old female Labrador Retriever, and they were delighted that she was calm, loving, and great with children. She was trained to retrieve, to sit quietly and to stay tuned into to her handlers needs and emotional bearing. Her socialization work was also done magnificently.
Through personality, physical and emotional needs analyses, Nate and Anne were deemed a good match. The only issue was they were over 1,000 miles apart, as Nate was in Wisconsin and Anna was in New Jersey.
Dogs2DogTags provided Anna to Nate after spaying, receiving a teeth cleaning, hernia surgery and a general veterinarian visit as well as the 1,000-mile trip. She was delivered fully trained, vetted and ready free of charge to a true American Patriot!
“The magic of their union was proof that our matching process is second to none as it was love at first sight!” says Jeff. “Nate and Anna are inseparable and are enjoying adventures afield as well as a calmness at home. Nate is doing so well that he is planning on using Anna to help him take other vets in need to the outdoors. He hopes they will see the positive effects of the outdoors and a dog can have on the ravages of PTS.”
With the grant money, D2DTs want to do even more for their communities and American service people. “Money and time are the greatest challenges to an organization like ours. Every dollar and every minute allows us to save lives, both dogs and veterans,” explains Jeff. “This grant would be used to adopt more dogs, train more dogs, and help more Veterans. Because we are an entirely volunteer organization every dollar would be put to good use!”
Visit the Healthy Paws Rescue Race page to learn more about the other participating organizations that qualified for grants and check back here on the blog to read about each organization!