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Veterans turning to dogs for PTSD treatment

Reported by: Mark Spain
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Updated: 5/23/2013 6:36 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Some veterans in northeast Florida are finding a new way to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

They are turning to four-legged friends.

K9s for Warriors helps veterans recovering from injuries in war zones.

Army Sergeant Raymond Kusch stepped on an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2012.

He lost a leg, and now suffers from PTSD.

Now he is walking his canine companion Zeus, with the help of a prosthetic leg.

K9s for Warriors takes dogs and trains them to be companions for members of the military and veterans dealing with PTSD.  The group estimates 95 percent of its dogs are rescued from animal shelters.

Veterans spend three weeks, and on average 40 hours per week, working with their K9 teammate.  
 
Shari Duval started K9s for Warriors after her son finished a second tour in Iraq. The organization has grown tremendously since its start.

In 2011, the program graduated eight K9 duos.   In 2012, that number climbed to 41.   This year, K9s for Warriors hopes to graduate at last 50 K9 teams.

K9s for Warriors estimates 92 percent of clients are able to reduce or completely eliminate prescription medicine used to treat PTSD by the end of the three-week training program.
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