Veteran Spotlight: Service dogs for those who served

When Marine Corps veteran Seth Eure met a fellow veteran with a service dog, he made a life changing decision. “I wanted the change in my life that I saw happening right before my eyes in him”. In March of 2020 he met Harris, a beautiful Golden Retriever, though the “Bump” process, in where the service animal chooses the human rather than the other way around.

“She assists me daily, whether it’s minuscule tasks like picking up keys or alerting when I exhibit certain negative behaviors.”

Seth met Harris through Paws 4 People, a Wilmington based non-profit that trains and places dogs with veterans, civilians, and children living with different types of disabilities at no cost.

The process starts with training at Addie’s Way in Castle Hayne. The puppies are trained in a special development program until they are about 20 weeks old. They are then transferred to work with inmate trainers at a West Virginia State Correctional Facility as a part of their Paws 4 Prisons training program. There they learn specific disability tasks and commands. When the dogs return to Wilmington, they work with UNCW students as a part of the assistance dog training program.

“It takes about 2 years to train one of our service dogs” says Samantha Cleary, Paws 4 People’s Director of Advancement and Engagement.

The long training process pays off when the dogs are paired with their humans.

“I am able to do things wither her and live a much fuller life now” says Seth. “I’ve been given this wonderful tool-this wonderful dog- to help me…so I can live a more normal life”

Samantha is happy that Paws 4 People was able to help Seth, but other veterans haven’t been as fortunate. “22 veterans commit suicide every day due to the help they are not receiving when they come home from their time of service. Our main mission at Paws 4 People and Paws 4 Vets is to bring that number to zero”

Click here to learn more about how Paws 4 People is changing lives in our community.

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Kristin Crawford

Kristin Crawford joined WECT as a Digital Video Content Producer in August 2016 after graduating from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She studied Communication Studies with a focus in TV Production and Media.