Saving Veterans One Pit at a Time

February 13, 2014  


By Andrew P. Hoskins


Dogs For Heroes is a 501(c)(3)-pending organization based in Illinois that rescues pit bull terrier like dogs, rehabilitates and trains them, and then places them as Companion, Therapy, or Service Dogs for Veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

As a Combat Veteran myself who suffers from PTSD, I understand the effects of PTSD on everyday life, family, and friends.  It is our honor to rehabilitate, train, and place dogs with a well deserving Veteran.

Dogs must undergo a thorough temperament test before beginning the program. However, if a dog does not qualify as a Therapy Dog, we will place that dog in a loving forever home that matches that dog’s needs.

Throughout training the dogs will be socialized with other animals, people, and many different situations they may be confronted with, as our goal is to have a well-rounded, socialized and trained dog at the end of the Program.

dogs for heroes3We first let dogs adjust to their surroundings, then start working on basic obedience training.  If a dog shows the drive and passion to learn, we’ll then continue to the next level in which we focus on the needs of the Veteran who they’ll be placed with.

Our goal is to get the Veteran involved in the training process, beginning with basic obedience. This allows a closer bond between the dog and their Veteran.  Sometimes dogs will be placed with their Veteran from the very beginning and they will attend training classes together a few times a week.  We believe this will create a stronger bond between the dog and their Veteran.

The safety of our Veterans, family, friends, the public, other animals, and our trainers is our number one priority. As we like to use rescued dogs, we often have limited information on the dog’s background and history, but we make every effort to get to know the dog, rehabilitate the dog, if needed, and finally train the dog for his future job.


Our organization has three purposes:

1.      We utilize rescued dogs in our program, saving that dog’s life.

2.      We show a positive breed image of the pit bull terrier like dogs, showcasing their loyalty, willingness to learn, and eagerness to please.

3.      We strive to place a quality trained dog with a deserving Veteran suffering from PTSD.


Dogs for Heroes 2We depend on contributions to successfully complete our mission as all dogs will be fully vetted, including spay/neutering prior to placement with their Veteran. We offer our dogs free of charge to Veterans. To qualify for the program a Veteran must have received a 30% or more single rating for PTSD from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and must have a Doctor’s note stating the specific needs of the Veteran and specifying whether a Therapy or Service Dog is required. 

This program is not affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs and we do not receive funding from them. 

Keep up with Dogs for Heroes on Facebook and visit their website here.

Click here to watch a recent news story featuring Dogs for Heroes!


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6 Responses to “Saving Veterans One Pit at a Time”
  1. kim says:

    LOVE THIS. but can we please start a movement to strike “rehabilitation” from things like this? was the dog a drug addict before? are all pit bulls who are rescued violent? don’t get me wrong.. this is amazing but the language from so many organizations (doing great things!) makes it sound like pit bull type dogs are convicts and need extra special training before being allowed back into the general population.

    • Mitzi Bolanos says:

      Interesting thought! I don’t think we ever saw rehabilitation in that way. I think when we use it, it’s more of just rehabilitating from the shelter life – learning to live as an indoor/family dog (again, or for the first time), and restoring back to that “normal” state (as a loved family member). But I definitely see what you mean!

      • Kathleen Hubbard says:

        Perhaps more clarification as to what rehabilitation means for these dogs would address the issue. As a mom of three rescued Pits, one of whom is a registered therapy dog, I don’t like the word either. As Pit Bull lovers and advocates, we have to realize the potential impact certain words have on the general public, many of whom are truly ignorant about the breed. Given the negative press these wonderful dogs receive, more positive verbiage might be a better choice. Thanks!

  2. Cassandre Miller says:

    Our group recently rescued a Rotti, that was chipped to the US ARMY, she was a search and rescue dog and sadly, ended up in a high kill shelter..She had two tours in the Middle East, with the last one ending in a bombing of a vehicle she, her handler and 5 other soldiers were occupants of ..and only she and her handler made it out..5 soldiers were killed that day. She suffered some minor damage and was cared for in Germany along with her handler..He wasn’t as lucky as she…he was badly injured..and has since gone through more than 10 surgeries to repair his broken body. Now living with his elderly mother…he could no longer care for his dog..(she had since been discharged medical, along with her handler…) he brought her back home…and after realizing he couldn’t care for her properly found her a home with a friend of his..After awhile, that beautiful Rotti (named Madison) was an inconvenience due to her PTSD..She suffered right along with her soldier handler. When I saw her in the kill pound when her time was up, they were holding her for rescue only. I immediately drove to get her out..She has since been placed in a wonderful home with a loving family as an only dog family..she is doing so well it makes my heart sing! My point in all this is..PTSD takes a special person that has the patience to be kind and loving..Not a person that rushes things..but, someone that truly cares about the outcome and is not afraid to put the time in..afterall, Madison was a soldier too! Freedom isn’t free!

    • Debi Bel says:

      How sad to know that a veteran who served our country faithfully and carries the scars of service ended up in a high kill shelter. While I believe NO dog should end its life in a shelter, I am particularly moved about a military dog ending its life in such a way. That should never, ever happen to a dog who has served our country in a way that most humans never serve. Not sure what to do to prevent such an injustice from happening again……but I am open to suggestions on how to be heard effectively about protecting military dogs from euthanasia in a kill shelter.

  3. Katelyn Bryan says:

    I am a huge advocate for Pitty breeds in general so I guess I am biast. Past that I think programs were Vets get paired with a dog can be good for dogs need adopting but could save the lives of the men and woman that have served our country. As a military wife, I have seen what happiness has been brought to my husband by our Pit Bulls and I couldn’t imagine life around here without them! LOVE!!!