War Vets Heal With the Help of Shelter Dogs

by Canines With a Cause
Shane & Titan
Shane & Titan

Titan was brought home as a puppy to help a young man recover from his heroin addiction. After several years and finding sobriety, the young man moved on with his life leaving Titan behind with parents who did not wish to keep him. Titan had become very attached to his family, as a big German Shepard who suffered with separation anxiety he would have a difficult time finding a new home in an animal shelter.

Luckily, one of the family members contacted Canines With a Cause regarding finding him a home with a veteran since he was unofficially a service dog. Titan's timing was good, one of the veterans in the program was interested in adopting a German Shepard . Shannon Ciccarelli, a CWAC trainer, picked up Titan and brought him to training class to meet his potential new partner.

Sadly, the adoption did not work out as the interested veteran attended school several hours a day and Titan could not be left alone due to his separation anxiety. Since he couldn't go back home, he went to the CWAC kennel to wait for his chance to find a new home; it didn't take long.

Several days later a call was received from a young woman interested in Titan as a companion for her brother Shane; a National Guardsman suffering from a serious accident. He had just lost a beloved companion who was also a German Shepard, he was living at home with his parents and had plenty of time to spend with Titan, they drove up to meet him that afternoon.

It was love at first sight, Titan snuggled up to Shane and we all knew she was the one to help him recover from his wounds. Once again, Titan would be a loyal companion to help his person recover, this time he would not be abandoned by the person he helped.

This happy-ever-after story is what makes our work so important, we hear them frequently. Your donations are the fuel that keeps our program going, helping people like Shane and dogs like Titan.

Thank you for your support.

Cathy King

Paul and Lady
Paul and Lady

Football was a very important part of Paul and his good friend Len's lives while growing up in Lakewood, CA. They joined the ROTC in high school, not a popular thing to do in 1972 as the country was still recovering from Vietnam. Other kids made fun of them when they wore their uniforms to school, but Paul defended "living in a free country", he joined the Army after graduation.

Paul spent 8 years in the Army, living all over the world, his time spent playing football in high school helped him with the mental toughness to survive. Although he had hoped to make the Army his career, he ended up in Long Beach working for a furniture store. 

Life doesn't always turn out as planned, after a broken marriage and series of odd jobs Paul ended up living on the streets. Dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his years of serving, Paul was having problems coping with life. He eventually moved in with his sister and reconnected with his friend Len who was living in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Len encouraged his friend to come to Utah. While at a Farmers Market they came across an information booth for Canines With a Cause. Volunteers explained how the shelter dogs in the program helped veterans cope with PTSD and enriched their lives. Paul missed having a dog in his life and eventually enrolled in the program and met Shannon Ciccarelli, the Dog Behavior and Placement manager at a local shelter to meet dogs. 

They met several dogs and none of them seem to connect until Shannon brought out Lady. She jumped into Paul's arms, it was a match made in heaven. Paul brought Lady home, happier than he had been in years. Sadly, what seemed to be kennel cough turned into pneumonia. Lady ended up in an emergency clinic fighting for her life.

Lady was a strong girl with a purpose, Paul and Len did not give up hope this girl would come home. Thanks to the wonderful team at the clinic and support from those who loved her, Lady survived and is working her magic with Paul. "Lady has given me back my friend and given Paul back his life" says Len.

Your generous ongoing support allows Canines With a Cause to help in situations like Lady's. The veterinary bills were over $1900, difficult for a veteran on disability to pay. Thanks to you, Paul's faith in mankind has been restored and a dog's life has been saved, another "happy ever after".


From now until May 12th, GlobalGiving is matching every donation made as a gift $5. Tribute mom and support the programs of Canines With a Cause by making a donation as a gift by selecting the third giving option, “gift or in honor of,” under the orange donate button on our project page. GlobalGiving will send the gift recipient an email, snail mail, or print-at-home card.  
Thank you again for all you do.


Heartfelt Gratitude,

Cathy King


Thank you to Military.com for featuring this wonderful story and Pets For Patriots for writing and submitting it.

It took a rescued dog named Hunter to help one Army veteran cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and reclaim some normalcy in his life.

Dan joined the Army just out of high school in 1986 and served until 2007. He’s proud of his military service and his ability to help those in need, like the time he helped build a school in a small Honduran village. Another high point he recalls with great excitement was providing security for the 2002 Winter Olympics, where he met many of the athletes.

“I served two years in Afghanistan as a combat engineer and I’m very proud I had the chance to do it,” says Dan. “It was a life-changing experience.”

Combat stress triggers PTSD

Still, Dan’s time overseas took its toll. Like so many service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was traumatized by his experiences and now suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. All of things he once loved – fishing and hiking in the mountains, going to yard sales and even simple interactions with his beloved wife, Holly – overwhelmed him. He was uncharacteristically short-tempered and very nervous in crowds. Dan needed help.

The local Veterans Administration directed Dan to Canines With A Cause, a not-for-profit organization that helps shelter dogs find homes by training them as companion pets or service animals for individuals in need – including veterans.

Not-for-profit partnership helps Dan reclaim his life

In March of 2012, Dan and Holly visited Canines With A Cause. The first dog they saw was Hunter, a large, year-old Golden Retriever.

Daniel and HunterWe just connected, right there," says the Army veteran. "We didn’t have the chance to look at any other dog; we didn’t need to. We wanted to take Hunter home with us right away, but we had to wait a couple of days, the longest of our lives.”

It was during these few days that Dan applied to Pets for Patriots, a charitable program he learned about through Canines With A Cause. If accepted, Hunter would be eligible to receive a range of benefits: ongoing discounted veterinary care from local partners, sponsor-provided pet discounts and direct support from Pets for Patriots to ease the costs of pet food and other essentials. These benefits help veterans, like Dan, afford the companionship and support of a dog or cat that might otherwise be out of reach financially.

From rescue dog to service dog

Dan was accepted and adopted Hunter. After completing the training program at Canines With A Cause, Hunter officially became Dan’s PTSD service dog.

A PTSD service dog is like any other service animal, except it’s trained to mitigate a psychological disability instead of a physical one. It is individually trained in obedience, as well as how to perform tasks and work in distracting public environments to mitigate its handler’s symptoms.

As a service dog, Hunter goes wherever his handler goes, even to school where Dan is studying business and entrepreneurship at the local community college. When Dan gets anxious, a PTSD episode is coming or his tone of voice changes, Hunter picks up on it right away. He distracts his veteran by vying for his attention, either demanding to play or be petted or licking Dan’s hand.

“Sometimes he wants to become a big version of a lap dog and tries to climb on me, just to distract me."

Hunter moonlights as a therapy dog

Hunter has already brought big changes to Dan’s life, who can do all the things he once loved. He’s getting more involved with the veterans’ organizations that helped him in the past, like the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

These days, Hunter is pulling double duty as both a service and therapy dog. Dan and Holly care for an elderly woman who lives on the second floor of their house. They take Hunter to visit her, during which time she pets him and talks to him, all with a huge smile on her face.

“She is happier and wants to do more things," beams Dan. "He’s therapy for her, too!”

For Hunter, it’s not all work and no play. Sometimes he’s like any other family dog dog. He likes to play fetch and tug-of-war with his toys, and enjoys napping on the couch.

“If you leave the room for even just five minutes," Dan chuckles, “When you come back he will act like he hasn’t seen you for a year. Then he’ll sit and look at you with his endearing smile. He literally just smiles.”

Dan is very happy with his experience with Canines With A Cause and Pets For Patriots. He appreciates that there are people who care about veterans, and who will help them adopt last-chance animals to improve the lives of both pet and person. He smiles at his own companion pet and therapist.

“Hunter is so cool. The best dog ever. I am lucky he is in my life."


When Austin Cochran awoke from his first seizure in August, he was 15 feet from his couch, surrounded by vomit and bleeding from his tongue. And then things got really bad.

He was hospitalized for a month, had three kidney surgeries to deal with kidney stones, lost 40 pounds and spiraled into his worst depression since leaving the Air Force in 2006.

"I was at my wit’s end, and that’s when I saw the dog," Cochran, 34, remembers.

Grizz, a year-old black English Labrador rescued by the Utah nonprofit Canines With A Cause, now is rescuing Cochran.

Thanks to your generous donation, over 100 dogs were placed with veterans like Austin in 2012. We could not continue the work we do without you, know that you've made a difference in the life of a veteran and saved a shelter dog.

The attached article was published in the Salt Lake Tribune on January 9th, please take the time to read about other veterans in the Canines With a Cause program. 

Thank you again for all you have done to help this cause.

With gratitude,

Cathy King


Happy Holidays
Happy Holidays

Meet Stephanie and her young Border Collie, Fly. Stephanie served in the Marine Corp and suffers from PTSD including anxiety attacks.

"The most important thing to me is my son. He’s only six years old and unfortunately has adopted the role as a service person to me. From calling 911 to telling people in a grocery store to back away from me while I have an anxiety attack, he has gladly accepted the role as I reluctantly watch with no choice. Seeing how my son has seen Fly react to my attacks, I have noticed a change in him. He understands it’s her job, backs off, and as a result has less stress. From comfort in petting Fly when I have high anxiety to the nudging, licking and pawing Fly does during an attack, she makes my life much more manageable. There really aren’t words to express my gratitude for you and your organization.”

This is just one of the "happy ever after" stories we hear everyday made possible by generous donors like you. It has been an amazing year, over 75 shelter dogs have been rescued and and placed with local Veterans, a winning situation for both.

We are looking forward to 2013 and growing our training programs to include dog training classes utilizing Veterans to train dogs for other Veterans in need. We will also be expanding the program to include Veterans incarcerated in prison for non-violent crimes. This will provide a more intense program for the dogs and benefit the Vets as therapy, giving them a purpose and inspiration to integrate back to civilian life. 

This month an anonymous donor is matching all recurring donations, give the gift that lasts all year long. 

Please help us to continue our important work by making one donation to save two lives.

Happy Holidays!!

With Deepest Gratitude,

UVU training
UVU training



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Organization Information

Canines With a Cause

Location: Park City, UT - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.canineswithacause.org
Project Leader:
Cathy King
Park City, UT United States
$299,766 raised of $350,000 goal
6,554 donations
$50,235 to go
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