Program pairs disabled veterans, rescue dogs

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GREENCASTLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Disabled veterans need help. Shelter dogs need a home. Both needs are being met in a program called Operation Save A Vet, Save A Pet.

At Good Dog in Greencastle, Helen Carlson trains rescue dogs.

“To assist in at least three tasks; opening up doors, pulling cabinets open, turn on light switches, pick up items, that type of thing,” Carlson said.

“We’ve screened probably close to 70 dogs and we have six in our program,” said Justin Slep, director of Franklin County Veteran’s Affairs. “So, it is difficult to find the right temperament and the right abilities for each dog. We’re looking at all breeds.”

Once a rescue dog is trained, they’ll be paired with a Franklin County disabled veteran at no cost.

Slep, a former Marine, came up with the idea.

“Through my personal experience utilizing therapeutic riding programs, through my recovery and challenges with PTSD and my TBI, I wanted to get animals involved with our vets,” Slep said.

Some of the dogs will be ready for a veteran by the end of May.

“I was like, ‘I’m on board’,” Carlson said. “I’d love to do it.”

Not only will the rescue dogs be able to help veterans with everyday tasks, they’ll also provide companionship.

“When you look in their eyes, there’s no judgment. They’re not saying this person is unstable because he’s a combat vet. This person is unpredictable. There’s none of that,” Slep said. “You look in their beautiful, big eyes and they just look at you and say I love you for who you are, no matter what it is.”

If you’re a disabled vet and already have a dog, they’ll train it for a $50 fee.

For more information, contact the Franklin County VA department at 717-263-4326 or jdslep@franklincountypa.gov.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC 27 News App and the ABC 27 Weather App for your phone or tablet.

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