Veterans to train shelter dogs in new, lifesaving program - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Veterans to train shelter dogs in new, lifesaving program

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – They may only stand a couple feet off the ground, have four legs and wet noses, but their lives might save the life of a veteran.

“If I'm emotional, my dogs are immediately there to kind of support me by reducing my stress,” Tony Yocum said.

Tony Yocum, president of Active Heroes and an Iraq War veteran, understands the daily struggle of returning home from war. He also knows firsthand what it feels like to be affected by veteran suicide, having lost his grandpa and a close friend.

“Twenty-two veterans a day are taking their own lives due to so many trigger points like post-traumatic stress,” Yocum said.

Hoping to change that statistic, Active Heroes and the Kentucky Humane Society announced their partnership Saturday morning for a dog training program. Their mission is two-fold: reduce veteran suicide and increase dog adoptions.

“These military folks will be training the dogs in their own homes. We will be providing them will all the training materials they need and one-on-one coaching,” said Andrea Blair with the humane society.

Their joint effort is called PROUD, the Patriotic Rehabilitation of Untrained Dogs. Humane society trainers will teach military men and women how to help the dogs with fear, over stimulation and other behavioral issues.

“The whole point is to save the lives of our shelter pets by teaching good behavior so that when they're adopted, they remain in their homes and are not returned to shelters,” Blair said.

“By fostering these dogs and training them, it's going to reduce a lot of stress within the veterans and the military family community,” Yocum said.

Yocum adds that by training the dogs, veterans will be able to develop coping skills to manage trigger points and have a new mission in their civilian lives.

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