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Soldier ON Service Dogs

Locations: 378 W. Moore Ln, Fayetteville, AR 72704
Phone: (479)521-9301
Website: http://www.soldieronservicedogs.org

Mission: To operate as a charitable organization by providing, at no charge, trained service dogs and service dog training to qualified veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), and by contributing to the overall knowledge base of best practices associated with service dogs.

We will focus on quality of the dog, its training, its trainers and veteran clients to assure successful placement and ongoing dog/client partnerships.

About: Soldier On Service Dogs (SOSD) was founded by Angie Pratt in September 2014 after a close relative, a Marine bomb technician, was injured in Afghanistan and began experiencing the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). After researching treatments she realized a service dog would be of great benefit but no such organizations were to be found in this area. Thus began Soldier On Service Dogs, the only organization of its kind in the state of Arkansas. 

Twenty percent of Iraqi and Afghanistan war veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Estimates for Northwest Arkansas put the number of PTSD/TBI Veterans at about 14,000. Of those, 840 (6%) would benefit from a service dog. PTSD/TBI service dogs do amazing things for their veterans. They detect seizures, disrupt nightmares, call 911, reduce need for medication, mitigate anxiety, reduce stress and save families and veterans' lives.

Services: SOSD puts its dogs through a two-year training process. First, the company acquires a puppy between six and eight weeks old. The puppy is then sent to live with a foster family (see Puppy Raisers for more information), where it is disciplined and learns to adapt to a family environment. After about a year, the dog is brought in for advanced work with the company's trainers for four to six months. When the dog reaches 18 months old, it is paired with a veteran for further training. 

Each veteran applicant is required to be in counseling and have obtained a letter from that counselor stating they would benefit from a service dog and would be able to take care of it. Soldier On Service Dogs also requires the veterans take classes with them to find a dog that suits them and learn to handle their dogs. These classes continue as long as necessary before the veteran is allowed to take their service dog home. The entire training and raising process costs about $25,000 per dog/veteran duo.

Volunteer opportunities: Delivering trained service dogs to veterans, free of charge, is time consuming. The list of things that need to be done is varied and never ending. And every hour that a volunteer donates to Soldier ON is an hour that Soldier ON can focus on the needs of the veterans and service dogs. It's really that simple.

Each of us serves our community in the way that we can. Using your talents and skills is just as valuable as a cash donation.

Soldier ON needs a Media Writer: We need someone to help us write press announcements.

Soldier ON needs an Event Planner: We have several events scheduled and a small budget that needs to be maximized. If it isn't fun, people won't want to come again. The person we are looking for knows how to throw a party and work with a budget.

Soldier ON needs a Community Outreach/Education Coordinator: We are putting dogs out into our community. Our community needs to know what the difference in a service dog in-training and a certified service dog is and how to interact with the. We need to educate people, take dogs to local schools, and even hold seminars. The person we are looking for knows how to get a message out. They are first and foremost an educator and willing to spend 2-3 hours a week talking to local groups about service dogs.

Northwest Arkansas is well known for its wide range of talents and its commitment to serving the community. If you'd like to volunteer, please call (479) 521-9301.

And please pass the word!