Our latest issue of Dogs Unleashed magazine features some pretty amazing dogs. When we first met Iago, a short burly pit bull with tightly cropped ears (we later learned his ears had been cut off and he was abused before he made his way into a shelter) we knew we had to feature him some day.
Iago and his owner, Shannon Schaefer, attended an event last year that both photographer Jennifer Waters and I also attended. We learned Iago was a service dog and that Shannon, a former U.S. Marine, suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While he was hesitant to talk about it at the time, Shannon soon warmed up enough to tell his story to writer Susan Harrison.
The organization responsible for Iago and Shannon’s training, Stiggy’s Dogs, provided a few more veterans for us to interview, and Susan wrote of the frustration of their condition and the appreciation and love for the dogs trained to help them cope with their mental and physical disorders. To a person, each veteran told Susan they don’t know where they’d be without their service dog.
While we featured just a few vets suffering from this very real disorder in the January/February issue of Dogs Unleashed, we know there are thousands more suffering. For many, a therapy dog might be the answer. Many states have organizations like Stiggy’s that work to pair up veterans and service dogs.
By publicizing the fact there is help for veterans suffering with PTSD — and for many dogs in shelters who can be trained to assist these veterans — it’s our hope readers will share these stories and perhaps provide a little help for those in need.
Mary Ullmer is creator and editor of Dogs Unleashed magazine. To subscribe to the print edition of the bi-monthly magazine for just $9.99 per year, click here.