“It’s a lifesaver.” That’s how one veteran in KELOLAND describes his relationship with his service dog.
From fetching a bottle of water, to picking up a dropped wallet, the animal you’re about to meet is pretty special.
This four-legged pal is Dusty Brown’s service dog.
The Vietnam War veteran and his companion have been together for about six months now.
Brown has been diagnosed with PTSD. Now, Charlie is helping him cut down on the stress in life.
While Charlie seems to be settling into the role just fine now, his future wasn’t always so clear. Charlie used to live at the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society.
Gail Dickerson is the Director of Operations of the Midwest Region of Big Paws Canine Foundation in Sioux Falls, which trains and provides service and companion dogs for veterans with disabilities and former first responders injured in the line of duty.
She estimates about 80-percent of dogs that have been in the program have been shelter or rescue dogs at some point.
“I look for certain qualities in a dog. If the dog seems to be a little less phased by the activity and barking going on in the kennel environment, then that’s a good sign,” Dickerson said.
Shelter dog Bruce Lee made the cut.
Melissa Tripp, a service dog trainer in training, is preparing him to become a service dog for a veteran living in Lead.
Already, Bruce Lee is making progress.
Tripp became inspired to become a trainer after a shelter dog-turned-service animal helped her husband who’s a veteran.
Seeing these once homeless dogs change the lives of others comes as no surprise to Sioux Falls Area Humane Society Executive Director Kori Baade.
Charlie’s specialty? Being the support system Brown needs.
Baade says shelter dogs have also become search and rescue dogs.