Warrior Canine Connection knows that pets have the remarkable ability to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, improve our mood and bring us unconditional love. That’s why, with the help of a new $75,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, the organization is aiming to improve the quality of life for veterans with combat wounds through its Mission Based Trauma Recovery Program.
With this grant funding, Boyds-based Warrior Canine Connection will support its MBTR Program to enlist Service Members and Veterans to train service dogs for their fellow Veterans. The training model provides veterans with a sense of purpose while they are in treatment at the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities and is designed to remediate their symptoms of combat stress, such as isolation, emotional numbness and re-experiencing. MBTR also harnesses the healing power of the Warrior Ethos in which warriors train service dogs for fellow Veterans; through the process, they learn to focus on the dogs and their mission to help another Veteran.
“PetSmart Charities is a true leader and driver in support of the health and welfare of animals, and we are so grateful for their endorsement and support of our programs,” said Warrior Canine Connection Founder and Executive Director Rick Yount. “The emotional and physical support that service dogs provide to our Veterans is invaluable, and we’re excited to use this funding to help support our mission and to meet the growing need for Warrior support by training and providing highly skilled service dogs to our Veterans.”
Veterans who have participated in WCC’s unique form of canine-assisted therapy have reported that it has significantly improved their self-worth, peer relationships and family dynamics, among other positive attributes.
“As the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, we are committed to supporting programs that bring people and pets together,” said Sima Thakkar, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities. “The MBTR Program is a great example of how pets can enrich our lives and heal invisible and/or physical wounds. Thanks to our donor nationwide, we are proud to partner with the team at Warrior Canine Connection and support the expansion of this tremendous program that aims to improve the quality of life for so many Veterans.”
Last year alone, PetSmart Charities granted more than $1.8 million to support programs aimed at enhancing the quality of life for individuals through greater access to service animals and animal-assisted therapy programs. Funding from PetSmart Charities supports best practices that enhance the human-animal bond and finds forever homes and families for pets in need.
Photos by Germantown Pulse