Since 2011, K9s For Warriors has been providing service dogs for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD) at no cost.
One local veteran, Jon Pearsall, served in the Marine Corps starting in 2001, even deploying to Iraq for several months.
When he returned home, he says he started isolating himself.
“I was also finding myself very withdrawn and not able to go out to the stores,” said Pearsall.
When he moved to Stoddard, he says that lonely feeling increased. He hadn’t been able to introduce himself to his new neighbors.
A friend recommended that Pearsall look into getting a service dog. After researching a few options, Pearsall submitted his application to K9s For Warriors.
“They came back and said ‘Okay, we can put you in a class date. It’s going to be a year and a half out,'” Pearsall said.
In October, the time finally came for Pearsall to fly to Florida and meet his dog.
“Over the next three weeks, we were literally tied to each other,” Pearsall said.
Pearsall was paired with Bobby, a three and a half year old chocolate lab.
During training, they learned how to go to stores, restaurants, and parks together.
The veteran says he noticed a difference with his anxiety almost immediately.
“The ride from the airport back to my house, I realized that I was 100 percent more calm there than I was on the same ride to the airport,” Pearsall said.
Being back in Wisconsin has allowed both Bobby and Jon to get to know each other better.
Pearsall has even introduced himself to his neighbors, after they met during a walk.
“A few days later, I went back over to their house and did a more proper introduction,” Pearsall said.
The Stoddard resident says he is grateful to K9s For Warriors and is excited with how the non-profit is growing.
“They were setting a goal of 12 Warriors a year, this year they can do 12 Warriors a month,” Pearsall said.
As of this November, K9s For Warriors has graduated 589 Warrior-canine teams and rescued over 1,100 dogs.
For Pearsall, he says getting Bobby was worth the wait.