Fort Hood Mass Shooting Victim Receives Service Dog

SSgt Patrick Zeigler, critically wounded in the November 5, 2009 attack on Ft. Hood, Texas, was partnered with service dog "Ranger" in an emotional ceremony in Minnesota. Zeigler was one of four service dog teams graduating.

Online PR News – 17-February-2014 – Savage, Minnesota – Pawsitive Perspectives Assistance Dogs (PawPADs), a nonprofit organization which provides trained assistance dogs to persons with physical disabilities and Diabetic Alert Dogs to people with diabetes, graduated four teams of dogs and their partners during an emotional ceremony held Friday, Jan. 31, at the Lakeville Area Public School District (IDS 194) Crystal Lake Education Center.

“This is what we are all about,” said Linda Ball, executive director of PawPADs. “This is what these families have waited for and this changes the game for four more families. Our volunteers, donors and supporters have worked so hard for this.”

The four teams are:

Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler and Service Dog RANGER (Hometown: Rochester, Minn.)

Zeigler is a wounded warrior shot in the mass shooting at the Ft. Hood Army Base near Killeen, Texas, in 2009. He was shot 4 times – once in the head, destroying nearly 20% of his brain, and given a less than 10% chance of survival. But survive he did. He has been partnered with Ranger…the very same Ranger who traveled to Newtown, Conn., with one of PawPADs’ volunteers to respond to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. Zeigler had been at Ft. Hood to process back into the States from his second tour in Iraq in order to attend Officer’s Candidate School. He had planned to become, ironically, an Army Ranger. Service dog "Ranger" performs such tasks for Zeigler as turning lights on and off, retrieving dropped or needed items (such as a phone), picking up laundry and dropping it in a basket, and providing balance on stairs or while walking and standing. Zeigler said about his experience with PawPADs, "The last two weeks were rough, but tonight marked the beginning of a new lifestyle for Ranger and me, a pair to be reckoned with! Team Z is stronger than ever with our new canine companion... BIG THANKS to PawPADs, the nonprofit…You and ALL of your volunteers are amazing! We could feel a lot of love flowing as you allowed Ranger to fulfill his destiny. We are so thankful and HAPPY!!”

Eastview Elementary School (Lakeville Area Public Schools) and School Resource Dog HERO

Hero is Minnesota’s first “School Resource Dog.” Hero will serve in a broad range of instructional and non-instructional areas to increase student engagement, decrease anxiety, increase student motivation, reinforce existing skills and provide unique experiences. The principal, a teacher and a parent volunteer will be his handlers and Hero will live with the principal. Hero was originally donated as a puppy to PawPADs in honor of PawPADs’ Paw Corps veteran program.

Sharyn French and Diabetic Alert Dog MILO (Hometown: Rochester, Minn.)

André Coleman and Diabetic Alert Dog SAGE (Hometown: Appleton, Wis.)

Both Milo and Sage were chosen as Diabetic Alert Dogs because, although they’ve been trained and excel in all service dog tasks, they simply cannot turn their noses off! Both dogs are trained to detect and alert to the changing blood sugar levels (highs and lows) in Type 1 diabetics.

Coleman tearfully told the packed auditorium that she had been a diabetic since the age of 9. Last year she was found unconscious twice by her husband, Brad, who called to check on her every morning to “see if [she] was alive.” It was then they decided to get a Diabetic Alert Dog to help her manage the disease. They researched several organizations and decided on PawPADs.

The graduation was the culmination of up to two years training, much of it conducted by inmates in the Federal Prisons in Sandstone, Minn., and Duluth, Minn., as part of PawPADS’ “Prison Road Puppies” program. A two-week intensive “Partner Training Camp,” where the partners learned the basics of caring for and continuing the training of the dogs, culminates in graduation.

A special part of the graduation was a presentation by Chuck Benson, chairman of Tee It Up For the Troops, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that uses proceeds from nationwide golf tournaments to support Veterans causes. Tee It Up For The Troops has been a longtime supporter of PawPADs, making it possible for PawPADs to prioritize veterans and partner the organization’s service dogs with wounded warriors free of charge. Benson presented PawPADs with a grant for $15,000 to carry on their work. “We’re sincerely grateful, fortunate and privileged to have the support of Tee It Up For the Troops,” Ball said. “They’ve been by our side almost from the beginning and have been the inspiration for so many of our veterans and wounded warriors.”

The average cost of raising and training a service dog is between $20,000 and $25,000. PawPADs is able to partner service dogs with those who need them at minimal cost or even for free in some cases. Donated financial support provides the resources to team with prison and school partners, veterans, and those with developmental and physical challenges.

Donations can be made at: http://www.pawpads.org/page40donate.html.

Dogs Ready for Placement

PawPADs is currently processing applications for the next Partner Training Camp to be held in the fall. Those seeking an assistance dog or Diabetic Alert Dog can learn more about the application process, by visiting: http://www.pawpads.org/page33apply.html

About PawPADs

Pawsitive Perspectives Assistance Dogs (PawPADs), is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Savage, Minn., that provides trained assistance dogs to persons with disabilities and diabetes. It is a candidate member of Assistance Dogs International, and a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Assistance Dogs United Campaign, and the Minnesota Council on Nonprofits. For more information, please visit www.PawPADs.org or call 612.643.5671.

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