Lavonte, a U.S. Army Veteran, knew how much a service animal would help him, “I wanted to start training right away. I was ready and needed it.”
Lavonte did considerable online research, and our Pets and Vets program wasn’t the first organization he found. He came across other psychiatric service dog programs with extremely long waitlists, organizations that required applicants to fly cross-country for a pre-trained dog, and programs that asked Veterans to fundraise for thousands of dollars in fees.
“I knew I’d prefer a program that allowed me to train with my service dog, creating a bond with him versus being handed an already trained dog that I just met.” Lavonte joined Pets and Vets because our adoption and training model matched exactly what he was seeking – and it was all provided free of charge. And our team was able to find him the perfect match — a gregarious, 90-pound mastiff mix named Baki.
As someone who likes to hike and go to the gym, Lavonte was interested in a large dog who could keep up with him. “The gym can be loud; people yell or slam weights,” explains Lavonte. “I needed an easy, go-with-the-flow dog who could be unfazed in this environment.” Baki and Lavonte’s bond has grown quickly during training. “He is a gentle giant, and easy to train because he loves treats,” explains Lavonte. “I know a lot of Veterans would benefit from training their service dog.”
Thanks to our generous supporters, rescue dogs like Baki profoundly impact Veterans experiencing PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more.
To submit your ARF-adopted pet’s story and photos, fill out our online submission form.