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Dog Trainer Starts Patriot Service Dogs to Help Disabled Veterans

4:05 PM, May 12, 2010   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A First Coast woman with a knack for working with dogs is using her talent to make a difference in the lives of disabled veterans.

Susan Bolton has created Patriot Service Dogs, an organization made up of six volunteers. The volunteers train the dogs to pick up car keys, open doors and even grab food out of the refrigerator.

Bolton said the dogs are trained to help veterans in their daily lives.

"If they've come back and have lost an arm or leg they may need a dog to pick up things. Some may have lost their motor skills in both hands and need a dog to open up doors and drawers," she said. 

Bolton started training dogs for veterans in July. She said none of the dogs is fully trained yet, since it takes about two years. 

So far, all the dogs have been donated by local breeders. Bolton said that is a huge help, since it is so costly to train the dogs.

Bolton said medical expenses alone add up to about $2,500 a dog.

The volunteer dog trainers allow the program to operate for free. "We don't get a dime for raising these dogs, training them and putting them out," she said. 

Bolton said getting paid doesn't matter to her, though.

"It is rewarding. I don't know what my life would be like if I didn't do this," she said.

More information on Patriot Service Dogs

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