December 07, 2022
Franklin County Service Dog Program For Veterans Graduates Four New Teams
The Franklin County Commissioners and Franklin County Veterans Affairs celebrated the graduation of a new group of service dogs and veterans into the Operation Save-A-Vet, Save-A-Pet program.
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – The Franklin County Commissioners and the Franklin County Office of Veterans Affairs today celebrated another milestone for the Operation Save-A-Vet, Save-A-Pet program, as four local veterans officially received ownership of their service dogs.
Today’s ceremony was the culmination of a multi-phase process for the teams that included specialized training, exams and other strict requirements. To date, 13 teams have graduated from the Operation Save-A-Vet, Save-A-Pet program since its inception in 2015, including today’s group:
- Shawn Burgener of Greencastle, U.S. Marines, and Colt, a 2-year-old golden retriever;
- Jay Depp of Chambersburg, U.S. Marines, and Ranger, a 4-year-old golden doodle/poodle;
- Clinton Goshorn of Fannettsburg, U.S. Army, and Cooper, a 5-year-old German shorthaired pointer; and
- Jennifer Small of Mercersburg, U.S. Army, and Moose, a 3-year-old Bouvier
Operation Save-A-Vet, Save-A-Pet is dedicated to helping Franklin County veterans with service-connected disabilities lead happier, healthier and more productive lives by pairing them with a service dog. Service dogs have proven to be highly valuable in assisting veterans with disabilities, including diabetes, seizure disorders, post-traumatic stress, psychiatric disorders and traumatic brain injury.
Dogs come from local rescues and shelters and are led through a rigorous three-phase, 12-month training program by Good Dog: Boarding, Doggie Day Care & Training, Greencastle. Each veteran-dog team must also complete a certification exam that assesses obedience and public access behavior as well as the specialized skills the dog has been trained to perform in service of the veteran. The pair then enters into a six-month probationary period before ownership of the dog is transferred to the veteran. Each team is then evaluated on an annual basis.
“We are grateful to the men and women who serve our country. Offering this program is just a small way of saying ‘thank you’ for everything they have done in the service of all Americans,” said Franklin County Chairman Dave Keller.
“Serving our veteran community is what we do and we do it well,” said Justin Slep, director of Franklin County Veterans Affairs. “There is no better feeling than providing an invaluable resource to veterans who will benefit from it each and every day.”
Operation Save-A-Vet, Save-A-Pet is supported by a grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veteran Affairs Veterans Trust Fund. Remaining costs, including training, initial veterinary care and food for the dog during training, are paid for by donations to the Franklin County Veterans Affairs Outreach Fund.
Donations to the Franklin County Veterans Affairs Outreach Fund can be made by dropping off or mailing a check, made payable to Franklin County Veterans Affairs, Attn: Outreach Fund, to the Franklin County Veterans Affairs Office at 425 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, PA 17202. For more information on Franklin County Veterans Affairs and its services, call 717-263-4326 or visit www.franklincountypa.gov.
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