Soldier On Service Dogs (SOSD) was founded by Angie Pratt in September 2014 after a close relative, a Marine bomb technician, was injured in Afghanistan and began experiencing the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). After researching treatments she realized a service dog would be of great benefit but no such organizations were to be found in this area. Thus began Soldier On Service Dogs, the only organization of its kind in the state of Arkansas.
Twenty percent of Iraqi and Afghanistan war veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Estimates for Northwest Arkansas put the number of PTSD/TBI Veterans at about 14,000. Of those, 840 (6%) would benefit from a service dog. PTSD/TBI service dogs do amazing things for their veterans. They detect seizures, disrupt nightmares, call 911, reduce need for medication, mitigate anxiety, reduce stress and save families and veterans’ lives.
SOSD puts its dogs through a two-year training process. First, the company acquires a puppy between six and eight weeks old. The puppy is then sent to live with a foster family (see Puppy Raisers for more information), where it is disciplined and learns to adapt to a family environment. After about a year, the dog is brought in for advanced work with the company’s trainers for four to six months. When the dog reaches 18 months old, it is paired with a veteran for further training.
Each veteran applicant is required to be in counseling and have obtained a letter from that counselor stating they would benefit from a service dog and would be able to take care of it. Soldier On Service Dogs also requires the veterans take classes with them to find a dog that suits them and learn to handle their dogs. These classes continue as long as necessary before the veteran is allowed to take their service dog home. The entire training and raising process costs about $25,000 per dog/veteran duo.
To operate as a charitable organization by providing, at no charge, trained service dogs and service dog training to qualified veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), and by contributing to the overall knowledge base of best practices associated with service dogs.
We will focus on quality of the dog, its training, its trainers and veteran clients to assure successful placement and ongoing dog/client partnerships.
Our goal is to provide a validating study while simultaneously helping to fill the gap in the availability of service dogs here in Arkansas. More specifically, we will have a curriculum based program where we will over the next three years accomplish the following:
- Acquire 75 purpose breed dogs.
- Train dogs to a service dog level and then extend it to advanced PTSD level.
- Screen and match veterans to dogs.
- Keep and maintain a database of training methods, trainer, dog, and veteran’s data longitudinally.
“If I fall down and I don’t break anything, I roll over on my stomach and I call my dog and she stands right in front of me and she goes stiff as a board, and I push on her shoulders to stand up.” — Richard Ellet
“The service dog has given me a purpose and a reason to do something. It gives me encouragement. Before I stumbled into Soldier ON Service Dogs, I thought that service dogs were only good for seeing eye dogs, or attack or search dogs, and they’re not. They are your best buddy, but you’ve got to learn to treat your best buddy as a best buddy and treat him right and he will treat you right.” — Bob Grubbs
“Thank you so much Soldieronservicedogs and their supports for the wonderful gifts that was given to my husband Matt Trimmell and his service dog Roger! Your organization is amazing. We are very fortunate to have you guys in our lives.” — Matt Trimmell
Soldier ON Service Dogs, Inc. does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, height, weight, physical or mental ability, and marital status.