We all get attached to our pets, but Kevin Oliphant has a special bond with his pal Leo. Kevin is a combat veteran and Leo, who still has a lot of puppy in him, is in training as a service dog. According to Kevin "he needs a little more training, but he's coming through."
Leo and Kevin are part of the Pawsitive For Heroes program, headed up by Lynn Magistrale at WNY Heroes Inc. Lynn says that the program is strictly for combat veterans, adding that there could be any number of reasons why a vet might need a service dog "some are post traumatic stress, some are anxiety, we have the hyper vigilance and the brain injuries."
Ellie, a Golden-doodle finished her training in May. Her owner, combat veteran Eric Hutcheson says Ellie gives him confidence "She gives me something to focus on, other than anxiety."
There are thirty-two veterans in the Pawsitive for Heroes program with five on a waiting list. It can cost up to $4800 to train the dogs. The hope is that the dogs will motivate the veterans and give them a purpose. Lynn Magistrale says "the biggest success is bringing families together."
You can get more information at the WNYHeroes website.