Dog program helps veterans with PTSD

Chainsaw (left) and Bravo are some of the puppies looking for new homes with veterans who need their help and are willing to commit to a special yearlong training program. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

Chainsaw (left) and Bravo are some of the puppies looking for new homes with veterans who need their help and are willing to commit to a special yearlong training program. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

KINGMAN - Local dog trainer Marsha Tonkinson and Charles Black of the Veterans at Sea organization are teaming together to train Post Traumatic Stress Disorder therapy dogs to help veterans live more normal lives.

The Veterans at Sea program is a volunteer organization that helps provide alternative holistic programs for veterans and their families. They have begun a Canine Therapy program aimed to help veterans deal with combat-related post-traumatic stress and other physical and mental injuries.

According to Black, PTSD dogs can reduce personal crises, divorce, domestic violence and suicide rates among affected veterans. The dogs are trained to watch their owner, interrupt nervous behavior and do other things that calm and assist. Black knows of one veteran who was on 16 medications for his PTSD and now, thanks to his therapy dog, the number has been reduced to three.

There are seven puppies in the program currently. One has been assigned but they are looking for six more local veterans to place the others with. Veterans who are interested in applying need to be committed to following through on the program.

This includes training with Tonkinson, who has donated her expertise to this cause, once a week for a year here in Kingman. These are working dogs, not just pets. The veteran has to be able to financially support a dog, including veterinary care, housing and other expenses.

Veterans at Sea is also looking for donations to help with this program. They welcome financial donations or dog food, collars, treats, etc. Zukes has already donated some treats. For those interested in donating more, or applying for the program, please visit www.veteransatsea.org or call 928-225-9060.