Group raises funds for vet’s service dog

NILES — Members of the First United Methodist Church of Niles spent a day at four locations last weekend collecting donations for Wags 4 Warriors so a dog can be trained to become a service dog for a local veteran.

The German shepherd puppy named Bubba has already been selected and will next need to take part with the veteran in training.

Pastor Paula R. Marbury said between $4,500 and $5,000 is needed for the training between the veteran and the service dog team.

She said the veteran named Dan, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, will join Bubba for 120 hours of classroom training and 60 hours of public access training, as well as additional time with the dog and veteran together. The training will take place in Broadview Heights.

She said Bubba will learn specific service tasks to do for the veteran.

The service dogs are protected under Americans with Disabilities Act and can go anywhere their veteran goes except sterile areas such as operating rooms and restaurant kitchens.

“It will take 16 weeks to complete all the training,” Marbury said.

Patricia King of Howland was among the 12 volunteers who helped collect donations. Sites were set up outside Walmart in Bazetta, Handyman in McKinley Heights, Perkins in Niles and Red Dragon Convenient Store in Niles.

“This is to help a local veteran in need,” she said.

Elaine Walker of Niles said the event was one way the church provides community service and gives back to the community.

“We have already raised half the amount at the church and are just trying to get over the hump to reach the total amount needed,” Marbury said.

Among the items sold to raise money were prayer beads with dog tags on them. Free dog treats were given to people who have a dog at home.

The mission of Wags 4 Warriors is to unite veterans who, upon returning home from war, suffer with PTSD or a traumatic brain injury with an appropriate dog and to provide all of the training, equipment and support for the dog to become the veterans service dog at no cost to the veteran. The ultimate goal is for the service dog to take away the struggle the veterans face everyday.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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