Operation Warrior Shield and Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation have formed a partnership to provide companion pets for veterans through OWS’ Operation Canine Companion program.
Each dog will receive about three to five months of training, while the dog is placed in the veteran’s home during most of that period. The program provides training instructions to the veteran/handler so they are active participants in training the dog as well.
Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Chris Quirin was the first veteran to receive a new canine companion through the new partnership. He called his new yellow Labrador retriever mix named Layla “a precious gift to myself and my family.”
Chief Master Sqt. Ed Schloeman, founder and CEO of Operation Warrior Shield, said his group is excited to work with Chris as they grow the program.
“We thank Chris for his service and sacrifices, and we are honored to be able to provide such a beautiful and loving companion to him through our collaboration with Pat Deshong and Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation,” Schloeman said in a statement.
Deshong described the pet selection process and said not every dog qualifies to be a trained companion dog.
“Our trainers spend many hours evaluating each dog for their temperament in different environments, and how they might accept corrections and commands,” Deshong said. “Because accepting a pet is a long-term commitment, we focus on setting the stage for the vet and their pet to develop compatibility and a partnership for the rest of their lives together.”