‘Man’s Best Friend’ Takes On New Meaning With Pairing of Therapy Dogs and Veterans

Therapy Dogs VeteransPut together a Certified Dog Trainer/Behaviorist, a dog in crisis and a military veteran who is traumatized by the memories of war, and what do you get? A match made in heaven!

That is the serendipity that led Sheri Williams, the experienced dog trainer/behaviorist, to found Animal T.A.I.L., which stands for Animal Therapists Assisting In Living. This new and unique program takes unwanted animals from local shelters or off the streets, rehabs and trains them, with the veterans, as

“Animal Assisted Therapists” or “Service Dogs in Training”.  These Veterans desperately need and want these animals to help cope with their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Now, Animal T.A.I.L. is working with Best Friends Animal Society and NKLA, a 501(c3) animal rescue group in Los Angeles County, to help facilitate its efforts,which Williams has plans to expand. She has also joined forces with the Veteran Administration Centers of Los Angeles.

Phase One of this project is pairing Veterans up with a dog from Best Friends Animal Society or NKLA, if they don‘t have a rescued dog of their own.  The dogs they are paired up with will be chosen by the Veterans, not the program, and they will become their therapy dog or service dog in training. The dogs are taught basic to advanced obedience skills, followed by animal assisted therapy or service dog in training techniques. Whatever the need of each Veteran with their dog will be provided free of charge. All that is required of them is the willingness and commitment to aid, assist and train the animal, and this program shows them how to do it. If the Veteran prefers a cat, one will be provided. Animal T.A.I.L. is also working with the VA Hospital and KLA on a volunteer program for the Veterans who live at the VA who aren’t yet capable of caring for an animal on their own, to come in to NKLA and care for the animals at the facility. The initial startup funds for Animal T.A.I.L. will be used for this phase of this project.

Additional information on the Animal T.A.I.L. program is available by contacting Sheri Williams at: (310) 220-7400 or www.AnimalTail.org

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