Ben Russell, NBC 5 News
The Patriot PAWS Service Dogs non-profit organization trains dogs to help wounded veterans or pubic servants at no cost.
Do the laundry. Get a drink from the refrigerator. Bring the telephone from across the room.
Those basic tasks can be quite difficult for someone with severe disabilities or a person who may use a wheelchair.
Patriot PAWS Service Dog has successfully trained 61 service dogs in Texas to perform those commands, and many more just like them. The Rockwall-based nonprofit says the skills turn the dogs into lifesavers.
"Our basic dogs are trained 65 basic behaviors: your sit, your down, your stay," said Patriot PAWS founder Lori Stevens. "And we take those behaviors and we chain them together."
"To go get the bottle out of the refrigerator is five basic behaviors. And now I can just say 'Get bottle' and now it's one new behavior," Stevens told NBC 5.
It takes between 18 months to two years to train a Patriot PAWS dog, Stevens said. And the cost of that training is estimated to be $27,000 per dog.
Once a dog has been properly trained it will be placed with a wounded veteran or public servant who has completed the application process and been approved for the program, according to Stevens.
There is currently a growing waiting list of 89 people who have been approved for a Patriot PAWS service dog. It will take between two to three years until each of those people has been matched with an animal, Stevens said.
"We need your help to help the veterans. And the veterans deserve it. And they need it. And they're asking for it," Stevens said.
The group runs its program through donations, and its employees train female inmates from a local prison to become handlers of the dogs during the training process.
For more information about Patriot PAWS, the organization's website is www.patriotpaws.org