“[Angie has helped] us advocate for veterans and the need they have for a service dog when they show signs of PTSD,” said Cody Somners, a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (AFROTC).
Somners and the other members of The University of Utah AFROTC are working on training Angie, an enthusiastic black lab puppy, to be a service dog for US Military veterans with PTSD. They have been fostering and training Angie since December 8th and will continue to raise and take care of her until the middle of this summer.
The organization that’s making it all possible? Labs for Liberty.
Labs for Liberty began as simply a group that attempted to raise money for veterans with PTSD. Later, though, they began to work with dogs and became an organization that raised labrador puppies for use as service dogs for US military veterans with PTSD.
According to Labs for Liberty’s website, “We have chosen to specifically breed labrador retrievers that are calm, intelligent, patient, obedient, and devoted. The dogs are also bred for their natural hunting ability. These service dogs’ primary focus must be their veteran and the tasks they perform for that veteran, but they will also be capable of serving as a hunting companion to those veterans who find healing through hunting and outdoor activities.”
“Angie has been a phenomenal moral booster,” Somners added. “Even with her rigorous training, she is still allowed to be a puppy every now and then. She has been motivating during hard physical training sessions when she is running alongside us. She exemplifies the Air Force core value of Service Before Self, by allowing us to spend the time to train her for the good of someone else.”
The goal for Labs for Liberty service dogs is to help veterans with PTSD. The dog’s main job is to be a companion and to help the veteran deal with bouts of post-traumatic stress. Thus, the AFROTC’s role in training Angie is primarily to socialize her and train her in basic obedience. The goal is that when she is returned to the veteran she will be able to go with them anywhere and interact with anyone.
“We as a program believe more people should be involved with Labs For Liberty,” Somners explained. “This is an extremely great cause that we are proud to be a part of.”