Guardian Angels travels to Michigan to Deliver Service Dogs to Veterans during COVID-19 crisis.
Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs donates individually trained medical service dogs to veterans, first-responders and civilians who suffer from both visible and invisible disabilities including PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, diabetic & seizure disorders, mobility issues and more.
This year, Guardian Angels had planned its first group pairing for mid-March. This involves covering the travel for applicants from around the nation as they come to our headquarters in Williston, Florida for a 10-day intensive training process.
Typically, when people come to Guardian Angels, they’ve tried everything else. They’ve tried medications, counseling and many of our phone calls begin with “you’re my last hope”. That being said, it made cancelling our March pairing that much more heart-wrenching. Our applicants know that preparing their dog will take time, and when the time for pairing is near, the phrase “hope is everything” becomes literal.
Then, COVID-19 happened. Trips and travel cancelled – especially for those who were immuno-compromised. As we began calling applicants, letting them know we had to cancel, tears rolled down our faces, as our applicants begged us not to postpone what they’d already waited so long for.
We decided not to cancel, because we couldn’t break their hearts – but the situation worsened, and just days later, we again were forced to cancel the scheduled March pairing group. Heartbroken applicants who’d already waited so long for their miracle to arrive were crushed.
As people began being told to prepare for a more intensive lockdown, trainer Kathleen decided that she would take a leave of absence, to spend her quarantine time with family in Indiana.
Three of our scheduled March pairings were set to pair Michigan veterans in need. Kathleen met with Guardian Angels Founder & CEO, Carol Borden, and offered to take the 3 Michigan Dogs with her for a very modified special pairing with their waiting applicants.
These 3 special dogs were Babe, who’s training was sponsored by Stahl’s Automotive Museum; Sterling, sponsored by Grosse Pointe Board of REALTORS®, the city of Sterling Heights, Michigan and Jim Riehl Dodge. the 3rd dog is Catherine, sponsored by the Veterans Support Foundation.
The 3 anxious applicants met Kathleen at a hotel in Battle Creek Michigan, where they were, at last, united with their individually trained service dogs. Kathleen stayed for nearly 2 days to provide a condensed version of the pairing process, and Guardian Angels staff followed that brief training with additional instruction via phone and online sessions.
Due to the nature of the disability, our first recipient has chosen to remain anonymous at this time, but shared that “even after just hours together, my service dog, Catherine is already responding so positively to me, and I don’t even know how to tell you how life-changing this is, I just know this is going to be great”.
Also paired were Veteran, husband, and father of two young children, Gregg who was paired with Service Dog, Sterling, and Marine Corps Veteran Mindy who is now paired with Service Dog, Babe.
Thank you, to trainer Kathleen, who went above & beyond to ensure these veterans were able to be united with their service dogs, and to our entire team for their always outstanding work and commitment to serving our veterans, first responders and civilians in need.
Guardian Angels was thrilled to be recognized by Fox News in their “Good News” segment with Janice Dean on Wednesday, April 8th for pairing Service Dogs with Veterans.
Take a minute to watch the video segment below. We are the third story, beginning at about the 1:16 minute mark.
If you’d like to continue to support our mission of pairing individually trained medical service dogs with veterans, first-responders and civilians in need click HERE.
Please enjoy the photo gallery of trainer Kathleen’s journey to Michigan, and the photos she snapped of our dogs, meeting their Recipients for the first time.