Paws and Warriors was established December 2016. Operating in the Unites States and Canada, is a team united by the love for dogs and passion to support those that serve and protect us; eligible veterans, first responders, and gold star families of both nations. Each of us have been affected deeply by PTSD in one way or another. Many of our clients volunteer with Paws and Warriors to pay it forward understanding personally how much hope and healing comes with a furry companion.
To achieve the mission we need the financial stability to allow us to provide a regular stream of dogs quickly and ethically for applicants. Funding limits the number of clients we can serve. Many of our clients see us as we their last and only hope. Our average cost for training fees and expenses (food and veterinarian care) is $5,000 - $7,000 per dog. The average cost of most service dog programs is $25,000 - 30,000 and average waiting period is 2-3 years.
The US Environmental Protection Agency estimate the current statistic value of one life to be $7.4 million. For a micro fraction of that value, Paws and Warriors can provide a dog before a Veteran, First Responder or Gold Star family member quits fighting. When we train a rescue or donated dog to be a service dog we are also providing the dog with a job, a purpose. We are producing ambassadors that can educate the public and community how important it is to respect the role of a working service dog and invisible wounds can be healed too.
Paws and Warriors was established by founder LaVonne Bower after she and her rescue dog Oz spent a year as a pet therapy team visiting the VA hospice and rehabilitation patients and local hospitals. Oz is a pit bull mix LaVonne fostered to adopt from a local rescue when he needed a back leg amputation or be euthanized. His back leg had been shattered in an accident and left untreated for weeks possibly months.
People were drawn to Oz and his gentle, no-quit demeanor. After getting him certified to conduct animal assisted activities, the two of them volunteered at local hospitals and retirement homes, eventually becoming part of the Sarasota Association for Equine Therapy’s (SMART) Warriors in Transition(WIT) program. There, she was able to witness how well Oz interacted with the Veterans and their families, and how impressed they were by his resilience and optimism. Veterans related to the struggle that Oz went through; overcoming the hardship of losing a leg and adapted to survive and thrive. Oz has become a reminder to keep fighting and moving forward.