A Plymouth-based nonprofit is training and providing what founder Lisa Burkett describes as “service dog assisted therapy” for local therapists working with those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Burkett’s motivation to start Courage Service Dogs in 2013 came from her personal experiences. She received her own service dog Bella in 2010 after acquiring PTSD. Since then, Bella has woken Burkett from nightmares, protected her physical comfort zone and removed her from situations that caused anxiety attacks. “My dog helped me a lot,” Burkett says, “so I want to help other people that way.”
Courage Service Dogs partners with Welcome Home Lab based in Bruno, Minn. to select puppies. The dogs then receive a two-year obedience and public access training with foster families.
Originally, Burkett planned to place the dogs with individual recipients, but since then has shifted gears to providing trained therapy dogs for therapists.
“We will train the dogs with PTSD skills and we can contract with local therapists working with those with PTSD,” she says. “I think in this structure, we will be able to help multiple people at the same time.”
There will be a fee for therapists to help offset costs such as transportation, care and training of the dogs, she adds. They will also train the therapists on how to work with the dogs.
Currently, one of their dogs is in a support group setting with teenagers in a pilot program.
Burkett also plans to do community outreach by educating the public about service dogs and offering courses for trainers seeking to become service dog trainers.
“We want to help as many people possible with service dogs,” Burkett says.
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Courage Service Dogs,
10647 57th Place N.,
Plymouth, MN 55442