TYLER, Texas — Alongside an experienced dog trainer, CampV has developed a program that will allow veterans to train their dogs to become service animals.
The one-stop shop for East Texas veterans will begin its first service dog training Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at the CampV campus, located at 3212 W. Front St. in Tyler. Classes will continue every Wednesday at the same time for five to six weeks, depending on each dog’s progress.
CampV Executive Director Travis Gladhill said a service dog is different compared to an emotional support animal. He noted most service dog training programs separate the dogs and owners for an extended period of time, which can be harmful to the veteran.
“During that time frame, the dog and owner can kind of lose that bond that they have together. It does cause undue anxiety on the veteran from having to be separated from their animal for an unprecedented amount of time,” Gladhill said. “We saw that happen and we partnered up with one of the best dog trainers in the East Texas area.”
Judy Parsons, a trainer with multiple certifications, teamed up with CampV for the classes. Those interested in signing up can call Parsons at 903-618-9333.
Some of the requirements for the training include a letter from the veteran’s doctor prescribing a service animal for psychiatric or physical support, the dog has to be at least 1 year old, dogs must be able to certain commands (sit/stay, down/stay, heel, leave it and come).
According to CampV, the dog cannot be an emotional support animal. The cost will be $120; however, financial assistance is available through CampV for veterans and their families.
For dogs who cannot meet the basic commands, CampV, also known as Community Assisting Military Personnel and Veterans, will provide that training during another class, Gladhill said.
He said the classes will include private training and learning behavior in public areas, such as going on public transportation or eating out.
“That service dog is there as I guess you would say as a prescription to help that veteran or anybody with their particular daily functions. For those that suffer from severe PTSD, that service animal can be that calming effect. It can kind of re-center that individual and bring their anxiety down,” Gladhill said. “The dog will be able to know what your triggers are and get you away from those triggers and lead you away to help calm down and re-center yourself.”
CampV officials will also provide help with deciding what kind of breed would be best for the veteran. Gladhill encouraged people to sign up sooner rather than later as there is limited space for the training.
This program is geared toward veterans who already have a dog and want to get their pet certified as a service animal. After completing the course, the veteran receives a certificate and information about their rights under the American Disabilities Act, Gladhill said.
“I think this is a great program that we are just now starting and we can’t wait to see where it goes,” he said.
For more information or to make a donation to the program, visit campvtyler.com or email email@example.com.