Local nonprofit celebrates 10 years of training service dogs for veterans in need

Community Reports

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – This spring, Paws and Stripes is celebrating a decade of success stories. The nonprofit was founded in 2010 with the mission of providing service dogs to veterans experiencing PTSD, military sexual trauma, and brain injuries. Since then more than 200 service members have been helped through the program and 100 dogs have been trained to serve a veteran in need.

Service dogs are paired with veterans from all military branches and go through a year of training with their new owners. During the program, veterans are required to go through therapy and learn how to care for their new partner. Paws and Stripes service dogs aid with medical tasks like helping their veteran get up after a fall and remembering to take their medication, but people we spoke with say their service goes far beyond medical purposes. The dogs also help members of our military by giving them the confidence to live life outside of the armed forces.

“It’s nice to have your battle buddy again. You truly feel it in your heart and it’s the most normal I’ve felt for as long as I can remember.”

Cole Hensley, USMC Veteran and Paws & Stripes Graduate.

The program is run entirely on donations and has been recognized both nationally and internationally for their work.

Ways to get involved

Paws and Stripes has a variety of volunteering opportunities. From working with the animals in training to fostering dogs ahead of their match date, and even setting up and tearing down for local fundraising events. You can be a part of the team by clicking here.

Adopt Rio, a former service dog

Rio is five years old, headstrong, and looking for a new home. He was a service dog with Paws & Stripes, but his assigned veteran could not continue with the program, so the nonprofit is looking for his forever home. They say he’s rambunctious but does well with small children and cats. He also plays well with other dogs but needs a slow introduction time. For more information on Rio or to meet him in person call Paws & Stripes at (505) 999-1201. 

Celebration of Heroes

The next Paws and Stripes event is the Celebration of Heroes on April 25th at the Sheraton in Uptown. You can join the nonprofit to commemorate its 10th anniversary and acknowledge this year’s Paws and Stripes Graduating veteran and service dog teams. To buy tickets, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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