Thanks to Erica Francis and Fox2 Detroit for sharing our program! Thanks also to our Michigan Regional Coordinator, Mary Lamparter; Veteran & Guardian Angels Staff Member, Nancy Dakin and to Recipient Matt and his Service Dog, Cobalt for sharing their incredible story.
If you believe that a service dog could assist you, learn more about the process here.
If you would like to donate, to help us continue training service dogs for those in need, click here.
Guardian Angels are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded a VETTY Award in the Suicide Prevention category by the Academy of United States Veterans (AUSV).
On Saturday, July 3, 2021, the AUSV held their Vetty La Vie Awards ceremony. Actor and philanthropist, Casey Affleck presented the award for Outstanding Service to Veterans in the Suicide Prevention Category to Guardian Angels’ Recipient and Advisory Council Member, Chris Cadigan, with Service Dog Brit at his side.
Chris’ moving speech read
“On behalf of our founder, CEO, and tireless advocate Carol Borden, our board, staff, countless volunteers, foster families, donors, and all the Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs Recipients, I would like to thank the Academy of United States Veterans for this recognition of 11 years of amazing work, donating hundreds and hundreds of dogs to recipients in 29 states.
Carol and Guardian Angels, have not lost a single recipient to suicide, and have less than a 2 percent divorce rate; lower than the Disabled Veteran rate of 90 up to percent higher than the national rate of 47 percent. We have one of the only college accredited, paid, service dog training apprentice programs, in the entire US which have been approved by the Veterans Administration under the GI Bill and are also taught to incarcerated Veterans.
Guardian Angels have participated in several notable research studies, reinforcing their program’s success, and has a proprietary 6 life-stage training program based on the mental learning capacity of a dog at various stages which builds self-confidence, the ability to think and make life saving decisions, be desensitized to things that would otherwise be scary, and never present a public safety threat, all through positive reinforcement training. In the last year, Guardian Angels created a Medical Savings plan for all of our service dog teams to further enhance the lives of the dogs. Dogs like Brit, by my side, here tonight ensure that our recipients are alerted to their unique diagnosed disabilities quickly; efficiently allowing them to effectively address an onset of symptoms which in many cases allows them to live their lives more fully.
This week, I attended the memorial service and funeral of two friends who succumbed to their invisible injuries, One a US Navy SEAL, friend, mentor and the other a classmate, fellow Army Officer and the friend that I chose to be my best man at my wedding. They had everything to live for, including a family that loved them, teenage children who excelled academically and athletically…..and long and distinguished careers that they could be proud of. It is unknown if a medical Service Dog could have helped them. Both had met my dog and were considering the application process at the time of their deaths.
Guardian Angels receive up to 40 inquiries each day. There is an average wait of approximately a year for any veteran applicant. Should you have the ability to make a donation to help train and pair an amazing dog like Brit, at MedicalServiceDogs.Org you’ll have a direct impact on helping a veteran and Guardian Angels continue this important work.”
This award represents Guardian Angels’ 2nd VETTY win. We were honored to receive the VETTY Award in the Mental Health Category in 2018. Watch Chris’ fantastic acceptance speech below.
We hope you enjoyed the segment!
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If you are interested in applying for a Service Dog, please visit: Medical Service Dogs
Recipient Kelsey and her Super Service Dog Flag were featured on WFLA station “Bloom” program today, talking about Women’s History Month, and of course, Flag!
by: Briana Brownlee
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As the saying goes, a dog is man’s best friend, but in this case, a woman’s best friend.
Karen Louise O’Neal, is a Navy veteran who served her country for 20 years. From 1973 to 1993, she served an EMT. After her stint in the military, she was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression because of events she witnessed. “Of course, being part of the ambulance crew, I saw a lot of gruesome injuries,” O’Neal said. “Also, when I was in San Diego, there was a PSA plane that crashed in San Diego with a smaller plane I think there were 163 lives lost in that and it stuck with me for a long time.” While still serving, O’Neal said she was able to push those traumatic events to the back of her mind. When she retired, those memories started to resurface. Before going to counseling, she struggled with rational and irrational fears.
“I would fear that something would happen to our daughter when she went outside,” she said. “I would hide in the doorway and keep an eye on her. I could only go as far as the mailbox and that was it. I became a hermit, I couldn’t go out to do grocery shopping, the pet store, whatever we needed to do, I withdrawn from that.” At her lowest, she decided to seek counseling. Her doctor suggested that she get a medical service dog. Taking the advice, O’Neal applied for a medical dog at Guardian Angles Medical Service Dogs; a service dog organization that raise, train and pair medical service dogs to people with permanent visible and invisible disabilities. Approximately 95% of the recipients for Guardian Angels are veterans.
According to Guardian Angles’ Chief Operating Officer, Mary Jo Brandt, many donors choose to donate dogs their dogs to aide veterans and first responders start a new normal. “We just have a passion for our veterans for people who go out there and do everything they can to keep our country safe. This is our way to give back,” Brandt said. O’Neal has found a new friend with the help of Brandt Guardian Angels: Patton, a 5-year-old English Box Head Black Lab. Patton is known to help wake O’Neal when she suffers from night terrors.
“Like they say in the military, he got my sixth, he got my back,” O’Neal said. “I had contemplated suicide, in fact if I didn’t have Patton, I’m’ not sure I would be talking to you right now.” Brandt “Guardian Angles is here to help because dogs aren’t here to judge. “If you drop something on the ground and need it picked up for the 100th time that day that dog does not care, it is a game and that dog is happy to do it, they just need a little love and praise,” Brandt said.
Patton does more than help O’Neal with her depression. “He’s an excellent listener, He keeps me distracted in overwhelming environments, he alerts me when my blood sugar is too low or too high,” O’Neal said. One Christmas Eve, O’Neal was at church and she noticed Patton kept putting his head on her knee and his tail was wagging. She tried several times to get him to sit down but he wouldn’t. “I was thinking maybe it’s not him, it’s me not him,” O’Neal explained. “I checked my blood sugar and it was extremely high so once I took my insulin, he was fine. He alerted me by the change and smell of my skin because of the increase sugar level.”
O’Neal told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that she decided to join the military to help pay for school and the opportunity to travel across the world. Now that she is doing better mentally, she is proud that she served her country.
Karen and Patton are one the hundreds of teams we’ve paired in 29 states across the nation. Our dogs save & change the lives of their recipients, by allowing them a beautiful New Normal that restores dignity, freedom and independence to their lives. If you would like to donate to, or fundraise for Guardian Angels so we can continue providing these incredible, individually-trained dogs to deserving applicants on our waiting list, simply click fill out the form below.
Our Connecticut supporters, lead by Dr. Rick McFarland came together this past weekend for Barks, Brews & BBQ. An annual event they’ve hosted over the past 3 years. The event was a huge success again this year, and three Guardian Angels Medical Service Dog Recipients were on-hand to tell guests the huge difference Service Dogs make in their lives.
Connecticut News 12 captured the story:
A great interview on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live show with Guardian Angels’ Regional Development Director, Jack Wagner; Recipient, Dustin and his Service Dog, Spangle about Guardian Angels’ Pennsylvania Property Purchase…
If you’d like to become involved with our program by supporting the training of Service Dogs for those on our waiting list, please visit:
If you would like to contribute to the building of our Pittsburgh-area Campus, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/GAMSD-PACampus
Congratulations to Recipient, BJ and her Super #ServiceDog, Wilson! Paired back in 2011, BJ & Wilson have been absolutely Rocking their beautiful New Normal, and now, they’ve both graduated from Santa Fe College, where BJ earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Multimedia & video production technology. Both BJ and Wilson looked the perfect pair in their matching graduation caps.
Great interview of PNC’s Joshua Drysdale on Your Erie promoting the 1st Erie Mutt Strut.
We hope to see all of you there!
Watch the full interview:
Recipient Haylee was in the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018 when a gunman opened fire, killing 17 of her fellow classmates and teachers. Since that time she has had panic attacks, terrifying nightmares and the continuous fear of being alone.
On June 30, 2018, we paired her with Service Dog, Spree.
Yesterday, on August 15, 2018 surrounded by fellow Guardian Angels Medical Service Dog recipients, and one of our service dog trainers; she returned to MSD High School for the first time since the shooting, and was mentioned in the following story, aired by NBC News.
Below: Photo of Haylee & Service Dog, Spree, Guardian Angels trainer, Kelly, fellow recipient Rudy & Service Dog, Rocket, fellow recipient Jim & Service Dog, Nina (along with his Mom), and fellow recipient Kelsey with Service Dog, Flag. Haylee’s fellow recipients traveled to Parkland to show support for Haylee, and trainer Kelly joined to give Haylee a boost of confidence on her first day.
A short video of Haylee walking to class with Service Dog, Spree, our trainer Kelly and followed by fellow GAMSD recipient, Kelsey and her Service Dog, Flag.
Our incredible friends at Armstrong Cable talk about their Healing Heroes Program, benefitting Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, and the results they’ve seen first-hand.
I Can’t Describe the level of Awesome
On April 28, 2018, Guardian Angels Recipient, Captain John Kelly, (Ret.) and his Super Service Dog, Ranger were invited to announce the Pittsburgh Steelers 5th round draft pick on live television.
John shared with us some of his great behind the scenes photos and videos of his experience.
Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs’ Recipient, John and his Service Dog, Ranger have been chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers to announce the 5th draft pick in this year’s NFL Draft!
John is a veteran of Afghanistan, an Army Captain, and Bronze Star recipient. He has been chosen as part of the NFL’s Salute to Service Program.
John was lucky enough to have a ceremonial pairing with Ranger done during a Steelers game in 2016, and he must have made quite the impression! The Steelers confirmed the rumors today, and you can read their full press release here:
Read the Steeler’s full release here: http://www.steelers.com
Here’s the NFL Release mentioning John & Service Dog, Ranger: https://nflcommunications.com