ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - It's graduation day for six rescue dogs, trained by inmates and donated to serve our wounded warriors. It's all part of the Paws for Veterans program.
"The veterans we help are combat veterans, they have PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] and other affiliated disabilities, so these dogs that they are receiving today are being taught things that help them with their daily lives," said Crystal Ayala, director of training for Paws for Veterans.
Vietnam vet Leon Bud Burch is one of the recipients. "She's going to be every bit a part of our family. We're going to start up a new family, it will be our third chance in life," he said.
The dogs go through six months of training. Inmate John Hardaway leads the program at the Central Florida Correctional Center. "We work all day 24/7, the dogs stay with us, they're constantly with us, doing work for PTSD," he explained.
The dogs are trained to pick up on signs of anxiety, like foot tapping and nightmares. They also create a passive barrier for their human counterparts, when they are in large crowds. They learn to retrieve personal items and help with simply daily tasks, like getting dressed and turning on the lights.
It's a truly a gift with positive results for everyone involved. "It's just really rewarding, to take this to the street with us and have something to do when we get out of here is awesome."