Therapy Dogs Trained For Post Traumatic Stress Dissorder

Mid-Hudson Correctional Facility in Warwick instituted a program w here 21 inmates trained 15 puppies to be therapy dog’s for soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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WARWICK — U.S. Army Ranger Bill Crews has a new best friend in his service dog, Jasmine.

“My wife has been so good to me,” Crews said, “but (Jasmine) is there when I need her.”

Crews served three tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. He came back affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. But Jasmine is giving him a newfound sense of independence, unconditional love and something to focus on as he heals.

Jasmine is one of 15 puppies raised inside the Mid-Hudson Correctional Facility in Warwick, loved and reared by 21 inmates as part of the Puppies Behind Bars program.

The program provides dogs to inmates, who train them from age 8 weeks to 18 months to serve disabled veterans affected by PTSD and traumatic brain injury or to detect explosive devices.

Jasmine knows 87 different commands and can act as a shield for Crews if someone is walking toward him or startles him from behind.

On Monday, three Labradors, including Jasmine, officially graduated from the “Dog Tags: Service Dogs for Those Who’ve Served Us” program.

Navy Corpsman Chris Goehner, attached with the Marines Logistical Group, will have Pele by his side, and Mark Miller of the Army will have Fisher. This makes 21 total pairings since the program started in 2006.

For the veterans, there is nothing but gratitude for the program, and the inmates, for providing them with this gift.

“It’s great to go to the prison and understand how much this is helping them as much as it is helping us,” Goehner said.

Inmate David Wood couldn’t say it better.

Incarcerated since 1983, Wood requested a transfer to Mid-Hudson so he could participate in the program. He’s raised two puppies that are now explosive detection dogs, and is raising a third, Gussie, who is too skittish to be sent to either law enforcement or veterans and will likely become someone’s pet.

“To be part of a program that provides disabled veterans with dogs,” he said, “is a blessing.”

asunkin@th-record.com

Original Article Source:

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091117/NEWS/911170313

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