Military vets find support in man's best friend

A Magnolia dog trainer is uniting service animals with military veterans

MAGNOLIA, Texas - Some local military veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder are finding much needed support in something that has four legs.

A Magnolia dog trainer is uniting service animals with military veterans through her work with San Antonio based Train a Dog, Save a Warrior or TADSAW.

Levon Ingram served in the Army and is going through the training with his pit bull mix, Sarge.

"It helps me with my attitude when I have Sarge with me. When I started to have a temper tantrum, or just wasn't feeling the way I should, he'd be there, tapping my foot, kind of eyeballing me," said Ingram.
 
Therese Aguilar, the owner of K-9 Heeler in Magnolia, has been training psychological service dogs for the program for about four months.

"I just felt it was very important to give back to them because they're giving it all for us here and we don't even know what they they're going through," said Aguilar.

She has a partnership with the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, which waives adoption fees on the dogs she chooses to train.

TADSAW trains and unites the veterans with service animals. The dogs are constant companions that can accompany veterans at all times as they readjust to live out of the service.

"It's small steps, but together, I know he's got my back and everything is okay," said veteran Duane Perez, speaking about his dog, Brennan.

In order to become service animals, the dogs have to be trained in obedience and socialization and they have to be able to avoid distractions. Though Sarge and Brennan are still in training, the veterans said they're already making a difference.

"Words can't even describe how I feel about being able to have him with me at all times. It makes my day," said Ingram.

Aguilar says another goal is educating the public about the importance of service dogs trained for non-visual disabilities.

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