O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Partners for Patriots


Travis Onken delivering Mia to his new Veteran.

Dogs as helpers to man is a well-integrated, documented part of history to the Roman Empire. More recently, and more urgently for American soldiers and their families, K9 partners have become invaluable and increasing in their skills. During this Memorial Day season as Americans honor the lives of veterans remember one significant way that helps make the lives of some veterans better. Partners for Patriots is one of those ways.

Partners for Patriots was founded in Tennessee in 2009 and relocated to Iowa in 2013. One source of 10-15 trained dogs each year to Iowa veterans comes from Cindy, who trains dogs near Anthon, Iowa. Its mission is to provide service dogs to disabled Veterans helping our veterans to gain confidence thus becoming more independent.

Some tasks that dogs are trained to assist a veteran are

•helping with anxiety from PTSD

•support and balance for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

•retrieving items

•assistance to sight or sound impaired individuals

Trainers there have developed a strong working relationship with many dedicated individuals around the state. Chad Odenbrett of Primghar donated a black lab to the cause. Partners for Patriots work with humane societies and dog pounds. Rescue puppies are taken in by selected puppy "parents" or puppy raisers, and trained before being given to a veteran, also trained to properly handle the dog. A puppy raiser gets the pup at 2-3 months of age and until the dog is matched at about 16 months. These foster parents name the dogs. Responsibilities of a puppy raiser are to teach house training basics and basic commands. Lots of public contact is good. Puppy raisers are always needed.

Funds can also be donated to the 501c(3) corporation.

Each dog given to a veteran is free to the veteran. When a veteran is matched with a puppy it is already trained.

Onken took Ruger to Colorado Springs, CO to be with Sylvia.

Holtrop said of the response to the program when a call for financial help came, "People have been so gracious, so generous."

In northwest Iowa contact are Gerry Holtrop of Hospers and Travis Onken of Sanborn. Onken spends a lot of time on the road delivering dogs across the United States. Holtrop is also available to speak about the program to civic organizations, schools or other groups that may be interested in learning more about Partners for Patriots.

More information about the program can be seen at http://www.partnersforpatriots.org or by emailing: info@partnersforpatriots.org.

The annual Veterans' Appreciation Day is scheduled for June 8 this year at the Cherokee County Fair Grounds. Partners for Patriots will be available at the event.


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