CELINA — Sandra L. Bohle of Celina created Angel PAWS three years ago, providing service or companion dogs to qualifying veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) or other disabilities.
“Our highly-trained dogs can make a significant difference in the lives of veterans who have given so much to us,” said Bohle. “Dogs affect veterans with PTSD in a profoundly positive way.”
She went on to say that veterans are eagerly waiting for the companionship, loyalty, service and love the dogs have to offer but pointed out that the amount of training, time, expenses and demand slows the process down.
“This is why sponsors are important,” said Bohle. “Angels for Veterans invites you to help change a life by becoming a sponsor today. Let the healing begin for those who risk their lives for us.”
Angels for Veterans, of which she is founder/president, was founded in 2009 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which strives to demonstrate deep gratitude and concern for all active duty and honorably discharged veterans. Offered are assistance, support and advocacy to veterans.
“We provide them with emergency assistance, including, but not limited to, providing work readiness items, educational support, clothing, work boots, computers, office supplies and gas cards,” she said. “We also make special need accommodations to enhance their quality of life, provide items of clothing and other supplies to relieve homelessness and provide physical and emotional support. Angels for Veterans will strive to provide loving support for all honorably discharged active duty and homeless veterans.”
She said they also provide gifts for the Dayton VA Hospital and veteran food pantries.
Services are provided throughout the state.
“These service dogs are welcomed full public access,” Bohle pointed out. “They are trained for each veteran’s unique need.”
Each veteran, according to her, tells his/her stories to Angel PAWS officials.
“It’s heart-warming and heart-wrenching to know the journey of a veteran,” Bohle said. “We train the dogs how to wake up veterans, how to assist with balance, to guide work for those with vision issues and train the dogs to help those in wheelchairs. One thing we don’t have to train them to do is be a best friend. Talking with the veterans helps me understand the dog’s link for them in their chain of life. The buddy system changes lives for the better. Our dogs are the best secret-givers ever. The dog already has their back 24/7. Everywhere the veteran goes, the dog’s right there.”
She said some veterans have difficulty going out in public, but indicated that the dogs help integrate them into the community.
The dogs, she said, are also trained for seizure alert and sugar detection alert.
“We have dogs in Brookville and Cincinnati and Jerry Bortner in Darke County has one,” said Bohle, who noted that most of the animals are rescue dogs. “Some of the veterans stay in touch with me. That’s nice. It’s a total win situation.”
Bohle said she is an animal lover, with three dogs of her own. She brought her dog, Colt, a mix, with her to the interview
“We call him our goodwill ambassador,” she said. “It’s all about paying it forward.”
However, she said it was her dog Abby, a chocolate lab, who was her inspiration to create the dog program.
“This was my love and commitment to my ‘wild child’ as I call her,” she said. “I never quit or give up on a veteran…ever. With that shared commitment with my dog, I put dog and veteran together. Abby was a rescue dog. I would not give up on Abby and I will not give up on a veteran. My first commitment is always to a veteran. What more people deserve a handout other than those who served our country?”
She went on, “My family pretty much has a military background. I chose to help the veterans. We use professional trainers to train the dogs. They work independently.”
Angel PAWS dogs train from eight months to 18 months.
“The trainer works one-on-one with the veteran,” she said.
Bohle stresses that a person has to be a veteran to receive a dog.
“The dogs are a gift to the veterans,” she said. “We raise money to pay for the dogs. We go to events, put on events, create raffles and have golf outings, eating contests and runs. We are always reaching for donations. We are looking to develop sponsorships from $,1000 upwards, but any donation is welcome.”
Those wanting an Angel PAWS dog can apply to Angels for Veterans, P.O. Box 611, Celina, OH 45822 or visit www.angelsforveterans.org or [email protected]